Man who sexually assaulted daughter now a free man due to old st - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Man who sexually assaulted daughter now a free man due to old state law

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

A man who sexually assaulted his own daughter was released from prison early thanks to an old state law.

Now Tiffany DeJesus, the victim, spoke exclusively to Eyewitness News and said she's continuing a push to keep criminals behind bars.

DeJesus testified at multiple parole hearings to make sure her father stayed in prison.

Despite her efforts, she could not prevent him from being released on Monday.

For fear of retaliation, she asked Eyewitness News not to identify her father by name or show his picture.

DeJesus painted a picture of a seemingly typical childhood.

"I denied it," she said. "I denied it for years."

She and her sister Kelly grew up in a Connecticut suburb in the 1980s.

However, she said it was what was going on behind closed doors to her and her sister was nowhere close to picture perfect.

"I was around six years old," DeJesus said. "My mom used to get up very early in the morning to go to work and she left us with our father. She thought it was safe and he used that opportunity to be like a devil in disguise in our house."

DeJesus said she and her sister were repeatedly molested by their father inside their childhood home.

"He threatened us that he would kill us, kill my mom, pretty much anything we loved, if we said anything," she said.

She said while her innocence was taken away, her strength was not.

In 1999, she decided to speak out against her father. It was six years after the molestation started.

"I got tired of being a victim," DeJesus said. "I'm not a victim anymore. I'm a survivor. But there's some little girl somewhere that is a victim right now, and that's what scares me."

In 2001, her father was convicted of first-degree sexual assault. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Last month, however, she said she received an email from the Department of Correction victim services unit. In it, she learned that her father would be released nearly seven years early.

"I was 6 [years old]," DeJesus said. "I don't get to serve 50 percent of my time. It's something I deal with every day."

She said the email also informed her that her father will have no post incarceration supervision. It was a decision made by the judge when he was sentenced in 2001.

"Him not having to report to anyone, not knowing where he's going to be. He's not supervised. He's not required to go in programs. He is getting out like nothing ever happened," she said.

An old state law helped DeJesus's father get out early.

It's known as the "statutory good time credit program."

It allows inmate who committed crimes before 1994 to earn up to 17 days a month off of their sentence.

DeJesus was molested in 1993, so her father received 2,160 days of statutory good time credit and 338 days for seven day job credit.

"He did a few classes and is getting out on good behavior, but me and my sister don't get that time," DeJesus said. "We don't get to earn those extra days. It's something we can't take back."

According to the DOC, out of the 15,000 inmates currently behind bars, only 600 of them are serving a sentence that falls under that old law.

Now in effect is the controversial early release program.

It was signed into law in 2011. It gives eligible inmates up to five days of risk reduction earned credit, far less than the 17 days from the old law.

“In this particular case, every opportunity to be released prior to the end of sentence was denied," a DOC spokesperson told Eyewitness News. "This includes discretionary parole as well as halfway house placement. Today, violent offenders serve substantially more of their sentence than ever before along with strict post release supervision protecting victims.”

However, DeJesus said she believes people who commit any sexual assault against a child should not be able to receive any days off of their sentence.

"I also hope that the DOC and our governor and the mayors and everyone in the state that can make a difference will look at it as if it's their daughter sitting in this chair instead of me and see that this early release is pretty much you're victimizing me all over again," she said.

Len Suzio, a former state senator who is trying to win back his old seat, has been an outspoken critic of the early release program.

"Criminal rights in Connecticut come ahead of victim's rights," Suzio said. "It's sad. It's incredible and it's outrageous. It's totally unacceptable and it's got to change."

DeJesus said she is holding out hope that other victims may benefit from her speaking out.

"I don't forgive him," she said. "God can judge him and handle him because I refuse to waste another ounce of my being on such a pathetic, sad, human being."

In the case of DeJesus's sister, their father was arrested and charged with first-degree unlawful restraint.

He entered a plea under the Alford Doctrine in 1994 and received a four year suspended sentence and three years probation.

Both sisters said they have a lifetime protective order against their father.

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