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Rapist ought to stay in prison

Richard Troy Gillmore, 47, is a dangerous man. He has a “mental or emotional disturbance, deficiency, condition, or disorder” that makes him a threat to the health or safety of others. He is a convicted sex offender who, according to a recent psychological evaluation, has at least a 50 percent chance of continuing to engage in sex crimes. And he is being released soon to a community near you. This description of Gillmore doesn’t come from his victims or legal adversaries — it comes from the proceedings of the very parole board that believes it’s acceptable to release Gillmore in January. The Oregon parole board has arrived at the outrageous conclusion that Gillmore, an admitted serial rapist who was convicted of breaking into the home of a 13-year-old girl and sexually assaulting her, ought to be released from jail after serving about one-third of his 60-year sentence. And the board reached this decision with the full knowledge that Gillmore is far from cured of his disorder. Victim’s testimony meant little Gillmore’s premature release ought to concern everyone, but it is especially troubling to Tiffany Edens, who was a carefree 13-year-old girl when Gillmore entered her parents’ Troutdale home 21 years ago and raped her. Edens’ life, understandably, went awry following that attack. As reported in today’s Portland Tribune and Saturday’s Gresham Outlook, she since has fought back to reclaim a normal life and put the trauma caused by Gillmore behind her. Edens wasn’t notified, as she should have been, when the parole board first decided in September to release Gillmore. But when she did discover — only coincidentally — that Gillmore was about to be paroled, she objected and the parole board opted to rehear the case. Even after considering her testimony and the equally damning testimony of the Multnomah County prosecutor who sent Gillmore to jail, the board stuck with its earlier decision. The parole board’s conclusion in this case shows a lack of respect for all Gillmore’s victims. After being arrested in 1986 for attacking Edens, Gillmore admitted to raping seven other women in Multnomah County, but he wasn’t tried for those assaults because the statute of limitations had expired. Board’s decision unjustified For its part, the parole board has done a poor job of justifying its reasons for releasing Gillmore. Board representatives claim they are required to parole a prisoner if he is eligible and if the offender — even if he is still dangerous — can be managed in the community. From our viewpoint, that standard still leaves the board plenty of discretion to keep Gillmore imprisoned. A serial rapist always will remain a danger and be difficult to supervise. Plus, there is the issue of appropriate punishment for heinous crimes. Gillmore didn’t terrorize his victims a third of the way — he traumatized them fully. Why, then, should he be allowed to serve only one-third of his sentence? And what message does such lenient treatment send to victims who are asked to testify against rapists in the future? Should they, too, expect to see their attackers back on the streets — or in their homes — in one-third time? The parole board hasn’t provided Edens, victims of Gillmore’s other confessed rapes or the public the answers to such questions. Instead, the board keeps repeating its conclusion that Gillmore can be managed well in the community. But if he’s still a hazard, why can’t he be managed just as well in jail?