'Manoa Rapist' denied parole 32 years after conviction

'Manoa Rapist' denied parole 32 years after conviction
Published: Sep. 16, 2013 at 9:56 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 17, 2013 at 3:14 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Paroling Authority Monday denied parole Tuesday for the man known as the "Manoa Rapist" for a series of attacks in the early 1980s, and his attorney threatened to file a federal lawsuit, claiming his civil rights are being violated.

John Freudenberg was 23 years old when he pleaded guilty in 1983 to raping or trying to rape 15 women in the Manoa neighborhood where he lived with his family.

A UH Manoa honors student and president of his fraternity he admitted to pleaded to 36 crimes, including rape, sodomy, sex abuse and burglary that were committed over a 14-month period in the Manoa neighborhood where he lived with his family.

Monday, at age 53, he addressed the parole board.

"I did plead guilty to my crimes," Freudenberg said. "I took responsibility as I was charged because I thought that was the right thing to do.  And I sought, at every opportunity, to get help for my problems."

He's been in prison for 32 years, serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole.  But each year since his minimum sentence ended in 1996, his parole has been rejected.

"I don't want to do that again.  I do not want to do that again.  And this is why I participate in treatment," Freudenberg told the parole board.

Freudenberg has successfully completed six sex offender programs and has mentored other inmates in the program.

Prosecutors asked the parole board not to allow his release into work furlough.

"It was, grant you, 32 years ago," said Lynn Costales, head of the city prosecutor's office sex assault unit."But I don't think we can forget what happened to these victims, including these women who were raped, one woman with her daughter in the room next to her. Many women by knife point and he threatened to kill them."

The inmate's criminal defense attorney, Myles Breiner, told the board, "the prosecutor's office seems insistent on treating this as though we had the death penalty and in lieu of the death penalty, we will keep Mr. Freudenberg locked up indefinitely, forever and ever and ever."

The parole board recommended he be sent to a work furlough program but denied him parole, prompting Breiner to threaten to file a federal law civil rights lawsuit, saying that he's being kept in prison much longer than other sex offenders.

"There are other inmates who are classified as serial sex offenders and they're still making parole status after 10 years, 20 years and so on,"  Breiner said.

Under questioning from the parole board, deputy prosecutor Lynn Costales refused to say how long he should remain in prison before being released on parole.

"15 victims, 30 years, you break it down," Costales said. "You can do simple mathematics. For every victim that he has, what is it?  Two years per victim at this point?  Is that really enough?"

"Do you realize we have murderers on parole that are doing exceptionally well," asked parole board member Fituina Tua.

"I do, I do," Costales answered.

"The man sitting in front of you seeking parole is essentially the same man that was out there committing these offenses back in the 80s," she added.

"The community has a concern that he may get out and that he will again put many people at risk of their own personal safety."

After the hearing, Breiner told Hawaii News Now: "The parole board says 'Congratulations, we recommend you to furlough.' Unfortunately, the Department of Public Safety says, 'Congratulations, you're never going to see the light of day.'"

Breiner said that sends the wrong message to other inmates hoping to complete programs and get back into society.

"How do you inspire people in this building behind us to do the programming they're expected to do so they can re-enter society and not be a threat?" Breiner asked.

In a statement, State Public Safety Director Ted Sakai said, "In order to make a successful transition from prison to the community, he will need a carefully structured reentry plan that meets his needs and the need for public safety."

He said the Public Safety Department agrees with the recommendation of a work furlough for Freudenberg but while he understands that his crimes are "extremely serious," the inmate has been in "good standing" for two decades and has completed all mandated programs.

Sakai said Oahu Community Correctional Center's work furlough program has recently expanded and staffing has been increased to meet its needs.

"We need to ensure that all programs are operational and stabilized before inmates with specific identified needs (such as Freudenberg) are placed on furlough," Sakai said.

Sakai offered no estimate on when the work furlough program would be ready to accept Freudenberg.