Thursday, December 06, 2007

What Mike Huckabee Knew About Convicted Rapist Before Pushing For Parole

Back in October I first blogged about Mike Huckabee's active role in the parole of Wayne DuMond, who went on to rape and murder at least one woman. Some of the unanswered questions I raised have now been answered. Unfortunately, those answers are highly disturbing.

One of my questions was: What specific evidence Huckabee had that made him believe a convicted rapist was likely innocent?

Here's a partial answer from CBS News which will echo familiar themes used by rape denialists.

And then there's the story of Wayne DuMond. In 1985, DuMond was convicted of the rape of a 17-year-old girl with a connection to then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton: She was the governor's distant cousin and the daughter of a major campaign contributor. As Clinton rose to national prominence, the case came to the attention of his critics. Journalists and talk show hosts questioned the victim's story and suggested that DuMond had been railroaded by the former governor.

This baseless dismissal of a rape victim's testimony and baseless suggestion of prosecutor misconduct is pathetically common. The difference between allegations about Bill Clinton's actions related to this case and allegations about Mike Huckabee's actions is simple. Evidence.

Steve Dunleavy, a New York Post columnist, took up the case as a cause, calling DuMond’s conviction "a travesty of justice." The story also came with a tabloid-ready twist: DuMond said that while awaiting trial, masked men broke into his house and castrated him. Though there were doubts about the story, it engendered sympathy for DuMond among Clinton foes. DuMond's sentence had been set at life in prison, plus 20 years. In 1992, Clinton's successor in the Arkansas governor's mansion, Jim Guy Tucker, reduced that sentence to 39 years, making DuMond eligible for parole. When Huckabee became governor in 1996, he expressed doubts about DuMond's guilt and said he was considering commuting his sentence to time served. After the victim and her supporters protested, Huckabee decided against commutation.

Here's where we get the most critical actions by Huckabee. Maybe before this point, he could claim ignorance about the true seriousness of DuMond's risk to public safety. But not after the protests.

Not only was DuMond a suspect in multiple rapes and at least one attempted rape and convicted twice for attacks on teen girls (the other time in Washington state), he was actively involved in a man's 1972 bludgeoning death. In that case, DuMond was given immunity in return for testifying against the 2 other men involved. He testified to striking the victim in the head with a claw hammer but said he didn't strike the killing blow. The men being tried claimed that he did strike the killing blow.

The question with these details is why anyone would NOT anticipate that this man would resume being violent upon release from prison or be such a serious risk that the only compassionate action would be to oppose parole?

Evidence met Huckabee's initial position about DuMond. Evidence lost.

If Huckabee had dropped his efforts to free DuMond at this point because of the evidence or had publicly maintained his support that an innocent man was in prison, I might be able to have some respect for him, but Huckabee made the choice to change tactics.

But in 1997, according to the Kansas City Star, Huckabee wrote a letter to DuMond saying "my desire is that you be released from prison." Less than a year later, DuMond was granted parole. Huckabee's office denied that the governor played a role in the parole board's decision, but there was evidence (exhaustively detailed here) to contradict that claim. [... DuMond] left prison in 1999 and ended up in Missouri. Not long after he arrived, he was arrested again - this time for sexually assaulting and murdering a woman named Carol Sue Shields. DuMond was also the leading suspect in the rape and murder of another woman.

Any possibility that Huckabee was somehow suckered into freeing a dangerous man because he didn't have access to relevant information is eliminated by the Arkansas state records the Huffington Post's Murray Waas uncovered in 2002 (before DuMond died in 2005), including letters from victims and families of victims that predicted DuMond's future criminal behavior.

The anticipated actions included the escalation from rape to rape/murder. Something that has been stated as being unpredictable. Because of concerns for the privacy of these victims, Waass didn't include or reference these documents in his previous story about Huckabee's involvement in DuMond's parole.

Before Dumond was granted parole at Huckabee's urging, records show that Huckabee's office received a copy of this letter [written by another of DuMond's victims] from Arkansas' parole board.

The woman later wrote directly to Huckabee about having been raped by Dumond. In a letter obtained by the Huffington Post, she said that Dumond had raped her while holding a butcher knife to her throat, and while her then-3-year-old daughter lay in bed next to her. Also included in the files sent to Huckabee's office was a police report in which Dumond confessed to the rape. Dumond was not charged in that particular case because he later refused to sign the confession and because the woman was afraid to press charges.

So Huckabee either didn't bother to read a police report where DuMond confessed to rape or he did read it and the contents of that report didn't matter to him. Since a parole hearing doesn't determine guilt or innocence, details of unprosecuted crimes are directly relevant to establishing a convict's public safety risk.

Often when someone is a serial criminal and one of his crimes will result in life in prison, other crimes won't be prosecuted so this lack of police action in no way exonerated DuMond. Many of those who would excuse Huckabee won't excuse a rape victim who was too scared to press charges because of direct death threats. The reality is that a rape victim scared of being assaulted or murdered has a valid reason, Huckabee has no valid reasons, only excuses.

Huckabee's actions were not acts of Christian charity, but acts which denied charity to crime victims who were dismissed as unimportant just as the lives of future victims were dismissed as unimportant.

The mother of rape/murder victim Carol Sue Shields spoke on ABC and her loss brings the price of political games into sharp focus.

Behavior like this is why I oppose those who pick candidates by how they fill out so-called moral issue surveys. Too often it seems like those check boxes are used as a shield against real scrutiny about how a candidate has and will govern or how they have and will legislate.

Steve Dunleavy and others like him who worked on the campaign to free DuMond and to paint a rape victim as a liar must be viewed as partially responsible for at least one woman's death. To them this might have simply been part of a political game, but their games hurt real people.

Update: CNN has quoted Huckabee's "heartbroken" response to the new information and the criticism directed at him because of that information.

"There are families who are truly, understandably and reasonably, grief stricken," Huckabee told CNN. "And for people to now politicize these deaths and to try to make a political case out of it rather than to simply understand that a system failed and that we ought to extend our grief and heartfelt sorrow to these families, I just regret politics is reduced to that."

How about regretting that politics led you to release a serial rapist who had been involved in at least one murder prior to his imprisonment? The system didn't fail. You failed, with the system as your tool and your fall guy. Rather than being heartbroken over the backlash you are getting, how about being heartbroken that your actions allowed 1 and possibly 2 preventable deaths.

If you want forgiveness for your actions then as a good Christian you first need to repent.

Huckabee's defense of his part in DuMond's release remind me of my rapist/boyfriend admitting to my brother after we broke up that mistakes were made in our relationship. In both cases the passive admission is designed to help the person escape accountability.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:09 AM   2 comments links to this post

2 Comments:

At December 08, 2007 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Huckabee's defense of his part in DuMond's release remind me of my rapist/boyfriend admitting to my brother after we broke up that mistakes were made in our relationship. In both cases the passive admission is designed to help the person escape accountability."

Good one.

 
At December 15, 2007 12:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Huckabee has no regard for victims of violent crime. Take a look at this devastating video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFTdif_Lvsk (http://www.HuckabeeFacts.com)

Also, as Governor, Huckabee pardoned or commuted the sentences of more prisoners than all six states surrounding Arkansas during his first 8 years in office:

http://www.arkansasleader.com/frontstories/st_08_11_04/huckabee8.html

 

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