The Riverside County District Attorney's office plans to appeal the decision to release a convicted child rapist 29 years into a 170-year prison sentence.
The state Board of Parole Hearings agreed to release Cody Woodsen Klemp, 67, against the objections of the victim and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, the DA's office announced on Friday.
Klemp was convicted in 1994 of 40 felonies involving the repeated rape of an underage victim. The teenager had been in the care of Klemp in 1990, even though he had twice been convicted of rape.
The child escaped from the home in Moreno Valley and eventually disclosed the abuse to her therapist, who reported the crimes to authorities.
When Klemp was located, he was already in jail, facing charges of domestic violence, child abuse and violating his parole.
During the trial, there was also evidence that Klemp threatened to kill the victim for going public and acknowledged Klemp had been convicted of rape in 1976 and 1981. He was ultimately convicted on 20 counts of committing a lewd and lascivious act on a child, 10 counts of rape, and 10 counts of forced oral copulation on a child.
According to the DA's office, the state parole board cited Klemp’s ‘low risk for violence,’ age, and marketable skills, as consideration for finding him suitable for parole.
“Although this practice of early release is far from unusual these days, considering the inmate’s particularly violent criminal history, and admissions to the parole board itself, it is shocking that such a release would be considered,” said District Attorney Mike Hestrin. “This is a devastating blow to victims, and our office will continue to fight on their behalf.”
The Riverside County DA’s Office said it plans to appeal the decision and send a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom requesting a hearing to reconsider Klemp’s release.
“This is about how the spirit of reform became lost and because of this, women, chidren, and the vulnerable will become new victims, or the current victims will be revictimized,” said the victim. “There is a need to modify reform laws to exclude adults who have committed sexual offenses. To exclude those with violence against the vulnerable. To recognize that we can differentiate between those who might have murdered as a gang member when they were young because they were caught up due to demographics, racism, poverty-- from those who have a propensity or disposition to sexual harm.”
Klemp is eligible for parole under the Elderly Parole Program.
The program requires the Board of Parole Hearings to give special consideration to whether age, time served, and diminished physical condition, if any, have reduced the elderly inmate’s risk of violence.
Previously, California Penal Code section 3055(a) allowed for parole review of inmates 60 years or older who served a minimum of 25 years of continuous incarceration on their sentence. However, the enactment of AB 3234 in 2021 reduced the minimum age for the program to 50 years or older, and the minimum years of continuous incarceration to 20.
If the board does not rescind its finding, he will be released on or before March 15, 2024.
Those who are opposed to the modification of the Elderly Parole Program minimum eligibility requirements and releases such as this one, may contact Governor Gavin Newsom at 1021 O Street, Suite 9000, Sacramento, CA 95814 or by calling (916) 445-2841.