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Published: Wednesday, 10/12/2011

Early release OK'd for sex offender, 63


MONROE --A former Lambertville man serving eight to 30 years in prison for raping two young girls in 1997 has won early release.

A two-member panel of the parole board approved Rex Layman's release from the Pugesley Correctional Facility, a minimum-security prison in northern Michigan. However, the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office has vowed to fight the convicted sex offender's early release, just as it did in March, 2010, when state parole board members decided Layman was eligible for release.

The prosecutor's office challenged the decision in Monroe County Circuit Court. Before the appeal could be heard in court, the full 15-member Parole and Commutation Board took the unprecedented action of reviewing the subpanel's decision and reversing its decision to grant parole.

"We still believe that there is a high likelihood that he will reoffend. We don't believe that anything has changed in the last 18 months. We will strongly oppose his release," Prosecutor William Paul Nichols said.

Layman, 63, was arrested in October, 1997, after the parents of the victims, who were 8 years old, told authorities he took the girls into his Lambertville home, where he showed them pornographic movies and magazines and forced them to fondle him and perform oral sex on him.

A plea agreement was reached in 1998 in which Layman was convicted on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Additional charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and distributing obscene material were dismissed. He was sentenced in June, 1998, by then-Judge William Lavoy to eight to 30 years. Judge Lavoy recommended Layman not be eligible for early release.

Michael Brown, an assistant county prosecutor, said he plans to appeal.

Layman is to be released Dec. 21. He would be under the supervision of the parole board for two years.

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