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Published: Wednesday, 2/24/2010

Monroe County Prosecutor challenges release of child rapist


MONROE — The Monroe County Prosecutor's Office has taken the unusual step of challenging the decision of Michigan prison officials to free a convicted sex offender.

Circuit Judge Michael LaBeau will hear arguments on Friday from prosecutors regarding the state parole board's decision to release Rex Layman, 61, who was convicted in 1998 of raping two 8-year-old girls who lived in Lambertville.

The Michigan Parole Board voted recently to release Layman from the remainder of the 8-to-30-year sentence that he received for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Michael Brown, an assistant county prosecutor, said the hearing will address the application the prosecutor's office had made challenging Layman's release.

“At this time we are asking Judge LaBeau to hear the appeal and grant the application from the prosecutor's office,” Mr. Brown said.

“If he does that, then he will decide whether our appeal has merit at a later date,” he said.

After the parole board deci-sion, county prosecutors obtained a court order from Judge LaBeau to stay Layman's release from Pugsley Correctional Facility near Traverse City.

Mr. Brown said it was rare for his office to oppose the release of a prisoner.

“This is only the second time that we have done this in the last 20 years,” he said.

Layman appeared before the parole board for review of his sentence on Aug. 31.

Mr. Brown said it was the fourth time Layman went before the board since entering the prison system in June, 1998.

Authorities arrested the former Lambertville man in October, 1997, after parents of the victims reported the sexual abuse.

Layman took the girls into his home, where he showed them pornographic movies and magazines and later forced the victims to fondle him and perform oral sex on him.

Mr. Brown said Layman made threats to the victims that if they told anyone they would “get into major trouble.”

Additional charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and distributing obscene material were dismissed at Layman's sentencing before then-Judge William Lavoy.

Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, could not be reached for comment.

It was unclear whether the granting of parole to Layman was tied to state cutbacks.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has proposed the early release of 7,500 Michigan inmates as part of $130 million in cuts to state prison spending for the budget year starting Oct. 1.

Contact Mark Reiter at:markreiter@theblade.comor 419-724-6199.

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