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Published: Thursday, 3/11/2010

Michigan child rapist to stay in prison after all

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - The Michigan parole board has reversed the decision to grant parole to convicted sex offender Rex Layman, a former Lambertville man convicted in 1998 of child rape.

The board told Monroe County Prosecutor William Nichols yesterday that it had overturned a Nov. 30 decision granting parole to Layman.

The full 15-member Parole and Commutation Board took the unprecedented action to review Layman's scheduled release after objections were filed by the prosecutor's office.

Mr. Nichols said the decision was reached after Layman was inter-viewed by a parole board member on Tuesday.

"Our community is safer today because of this decision. We did our job and will continue to object to the release of dangerous prisoners when there is evidence that they still pose a danger to the public," Mr. Nichols said.

Layman, 61, has served nearly 12 years of the 8 to 30-year prison sentence he received in Monroe County Circuit Court for sexually abusing two 8-year-old girls in 1997.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexually abusing the victims on multiple occasions in 1997.

A three-member panel of the state parole board decided in November that Layman could be released on parole.

His release had been scheduled for Feb. 17.

After learning Jan. 14 from a county circuit judge about the pending release and that it had missed the 28-day window to object, the prosecutor's office asked for an appeal of the parole board decision in circuit court and obtained a court order to keep Layman in prison.

A hearing on the request from the prosecutor's office to appeal the parole release was scheduled for Friday before Judge Michael LaBeau.

"We are pleased that the parole board took a second look at this, reversed the decision, and found that he is dangerous to society and a threat to public safety," said Michael Brown, the assistant county prosecutor who handled the appeal.

Prosecutors said the parole board will not allow Layman to ask to be released on parole until March, 2012.

"At this point, they are saying they will wait 24 months to review it," Mr. Brown said.

Layman had gone before the parole board on three previous occasions, and was denied release each time, including in 2006, when he described the victims as "eager participants," according to court records.

Prosecutors used Layman's statements from the earlier parole hearing to argue that he lacked remorse for the crimes and could abuse young children again if set free.

Stuart Friedman, a Southfield, Mich., attorney who was appointed to represent Layman in the prosecutor's appeal, said Layman had completed 150 percent of the minimum sentence and had perfect prison evaluations.

"I am disappointed in the ruling. This was a sentence that nobody had a problem with when it was imposed. Nothing has changed. He did a horrible thing. But nobody really cares about sex offender rights. Nobody will get elected calling for rights of sex offenders," he said.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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