Board backs off skip-to-parole for Manoa rapist; work furlough again a prerequisite

The man known as the "Manoa rapist" will not be freed any time soon in a sharp reversal before the parole board Tuesday.

John Freudenberg committed multiple rapes and assaults in the 1980s in Manoa, and in a plea deal was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole -- a possibility that's come closer and farther in a back-and-forth limbo before the parole board every appearance since his 15-year minimum was passed.

"The board has ordered you to work furlough since 1997 and you have been turned down every single time,” said Hawaii Paroling Authority board member Annelle Amaral.

Just six months ago, the parole board said it would consider a direct-to-parole plan to be taken up at Tuesday's hearing, because of the continual denial of work-furlough placement.

“I’ve served 250-percent of that minimum, 35 years on a 15-year minimum,” Freudenberg told the Hawaii Paroling Authority on Tuesday. “I think as far as time is concerned, I think I have done enough. My punishment won't end if and when I walk out that door, my punishment will continue for the rest of my life in one way or another, and I accept that as part of the price I should pay for what I did."

But his release has been moved back to square one, told again to wait for a work furlough placement that the state has been reluctant to provide.

The HPA is still willing to let him take his first steps outside of Halawa prison, but only into a work furlough program it doesn't control admission to. Only the Department of Public Safety can schedule that, and officials say continually his application is "under review" and that a specific plan for him is not yet approved, something the Honolulu prosecutor's office agrees with.

“If the system itself has inadequate resources to properly monitor him, then he should not be let out," deputy prosecutor Lynn Costales told the board.

But Freudenberg's attorney, Myles Breiner, says Freudenberg is being singled out.

“I see clients that I've had, and other clients from the public defender's office, who have committed similar offenses, even worse offenses -- murder -- and they make furlough and then they go on to parole,” Breiner said. “Yet Mr. Freudenberg can't even get to step one."

Back in March, the board seemed sympathetic to Freudenberg's furlough impasse with the Department of Public Safety, and showed a willingness to at least consider a plan to let him out of prison straight to parole. Last spring, they asked him to come back in six months with a plan for that, and the hearing was Tuesday.

“I am no longer dancing around. You are qualified for parole,” Amaral said, “and my vote will be for you to be paroled."

But she was the only one to vote that way.

“Let's not forget there are x-amount of victims, okay, that we have to think about too," said HPA board member Fituina Tua, who supports the work furlough prerequisite.

“I am not altogether confident that putting you out on parole, even with the most intensive supervision, is that next logical step. It's just too big a jump,” said HPA chairman Edmund “Fred” Hyun. "We're going to deny parole today, recommend work furlough, and we'll see you in 11 months."

The board added a requirement for DPS to put Freudenberg on electronic monitoring during any furlough they let him out for. The board also is requiring curfew and after-care in a furlough plan.

We asked if DPS furlough programs can meet all of those requirements for inmates, and DPS told us it “has the ability to place inmates on electronic monitoring with established curfews, and, if required, can do the same in the furlough program for special situations that warrant the extra security measures.”

DPS added, “We currently have approximately 60 inmates statewide on electronic monitoring at this time. Staff use a risk assessment tool that looks at many different criminogenic factors to determine potential risk an inmate poses to the public. Every inmate’s situation is different and every assessment is individualized to meet the specific needs of that inmate. Ultimately it is the decision of each Warden as it is the Warden that authorizes (or not) each furlough contract.”

Breiner said the added requirements of e-monitoring, curfew and after-care were “everything and more we asked for” in past furlough and parole proposals he has made.

“He is even willing to pay for it out of his own pocket, and the Department of Public Safety did nothing,” Breiner told the board.

“Again, you should raise those arguments with the Department of Public Safety,” Hyun told Breiner.

“That's shouting into the wind, which is virtually useless," Breiner said.

Freudenberg had been approved for an out-of-state parole to live with a sister in Texas, but parole authorities there twice rescinded the move.

“We come here time and time again and everyone wrings their hands. ‘He's the Manoa Valley rapist. We've got to keep him in. He should never be eligible for furlough or parole.’ Well that makes a mockery of our justice system,” Breiner said.

Always Investigating asked if DPS has decided when or whether John Freudenberg will be placed into work furlough, and the department’s spokesperson told us:

“The Department of Public Safety respects the assessment of the Hawaii Paroling Authority and its board. The department’s first priority will always be the safety of the public. We will include consideration of their request for electronic monitoring and curfew as we evaluate a comprehensive furlough plan that meets all of Mr. Freudenberg’s needs. Until we are reasonably assured that the public’s safety is not jeopardized by our placing Mr. Freudenberg back into society without constant supervision, we will refrain from placing him in furlough.”

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