Monday, April 8, 1996
Probation for rapist grandpa is shocking

BY CLIFF RADEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Thanks to an act of judicial kindness, a sickly grandpa walks the streets today a free man.

Gramps has been out of jail since Wednesday. Judge William Morrissey released him on shock probation. The 67-year-old man had served two years of a 15-year sentence for rape.

This grandfather is an extraordinarily sick rapist. He knew his victims.

They were his grandchildren.

He raped four of them. Two granddaughters, ages 5 and 6. A step-granddaughter, age 6. A grandson, age 8.

You read about cases like this and you wonder what gets into a person's mind to do this sort of thing.

Lately, though, I haven't spend a lot of time wondering . . . at least not about Gramps.

In my book, the man's human garbage. He has no mind for me to ponder, or at least that part called a conscience. I'd be only too happy if he were kept under lock and key for the rest of his miserable life.

The person I do wonder about is Judge Morrissey. How does a judge grant shock probation to someone like this? Aren't the man's actions far more shocking than his own sudden realization that life in prison is harsh or that, as his attorney has argued, he's in poor health?

That this man was released will also come as a shock to many in Hamilton County. His kind are not welcome here.

In Reading, a vigilante group is keeping tabs on a convicted sex offender. The group wants him, at the very least, out of town. And, he was convicted of only one rape. While ''only one'' is still one too many, it pales in comparison to what this grandfather has done.

In 1992, the grandfather - who's not being named to protect his victims - was indicted on 27 counts of committing unimaginable crimes. Rape and gross sexual imposition. Disseminating harmful materials to minors and juveniles. Compelling prostitution and corruption of a minor. The last two offenses involved a 13-year-old girl.

This is a man who deserves to be out of jail?

Convicted in 1994, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Two years later he's out? Shocked at prison life? Too ill to stay behind bars? He should do his time. Every last second.

I'm shocked he was even up for probation. Child molesters have a tragically high rate of recidivism. Let them out and they return to the scene of the crime.

This child molester is a longtime repeat offender. According to his daughter, he's raped two generations of his family. He sexually abused her as a child. Then he did it to her children.

Gramps' health is supposedly failing. The judge's bailiff, Dennis Puthoff, a man with an eye for detail, says the grandfather looked as if ''he was not going to live through his shock-probation hearing.''

Tough.

I can't afford to waste any sympathy on this guy.

Apparently, Judge Morrissey can. The judge, who's retiring from Hamilton County Common Pleas Court at the end of the year, shock-paroled the rapist out of the prison system and into the community.

Tim Shannon, Hamilton County's assistant chief probation officer, says shock parole is ''up to the discretion of the court.''

Where is the judge's discretion in the court of innocent victims? Who's going to let them off the hook for the nightmares they're suffering? Who's going to give them back their childhood?

Not this judge.

Not any judge.

Judge Morrissey did order the grandfather to pay for his victims' psychological counseling. The rapist is prohibited from having any contact with his family. He must report to his parole officer once a week. Starting April 16, he attends two meetings a month in a behavior-control group for sex offenders.

Other than that, he's free to come and go as he pleases. He doesn't even have to stay in Hamilton County.

''He can live on Mars,'' says Tim Shannon, ''as long as he comes in by rocket for his meetings.''

The grandfather's lawyer, Thomas Miller, says his client wants to move out of state.

Mars sounds about right to me. And, when you get there, Gramps, say hello to the judge.

Cliff Radel's column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Available to speak to groups. Tips and comments welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.