Convicted rapist facing new charges was let out of prison early - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Convicted rapist facing new charges was let out of prison early

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Michael Fontaine (Fairfield Police) Michael Fontaine (Fairfield Police)
FAIRFIELD, CT (WFSB) -

A man, who is a convicted rapist, was released from prison more than a year early because of an old state law.

On a cold December night, a woman walking home from the Fairfield train station was attacked, raped and robbed.

Police said 48-year-old Michael Fontaine is the person responsible.

It’s a brutal attack that some say should never have happened.

That’s because Fontaine was released from state prison more than one year early, only out on the streets for 11 days, and Fairfield police said the victim might have been killed if she hadn’t fought back.

"When she saw the opportunity, he had put the knife down, she grabbed the knife and went at the suspect with the knife,” said Fairfield Police Lt. Robert Kalamaras.

Her quick thinking helped police hunt Fontaine down. In under an hour, they were able to track him in some bushes, less than a mile away.

"The fact that someone would do that is insane. I just can't imagine how she's feeling,” said Martina Goda, of Fairfield.

This certainly wasn’t Fontaine’s first run-in with the law.

In fact, he has a lengthy criminal record, and a history of sexual violence dating back to the 1980s.

He was sentenced on drugs and weapons charges and was released to a halfway house in 1990. A few months later, he disappeared and was considered an escapee.

Shortly after, Fontaine was arrested and convicted of aggravated rape in Massachusetts, serving 23 years behind bars.

In 2014, he was brought back to Connecticut to finish out his outstanding sentence.

So why was a convicted rapist and registered sex offender allowed to leave prison 496 days early, only to re-offend 11 days later?

It's because of an old state law, known as the Statutory Good Time Credit Program.

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

This is troubling news for those unsettled by what happened recently in Fairfield.

"If he was still in prison, he wouldn't have been able to commit it so I think he should have still been in prison,” Goda said.

State Senator Len Suzio, who recently won back his old seat, has been an outspoken critic of the Statutory Good Time Credit Program, and the current law, the Early Release Program.

"This does not surprise me. We are not rehabilitating the criminals in our jails. We're failing far more often than we succeed and in the meantime, we're risking the safety and lives of the men, women and children in our state,” Suzio said.

Officials with the Department of Correction are quick to point out the Early Release Program, which was signed into law in 2011, only gives eligible inmates up to five days of risk reduction earned credit, far less than the 17 in the old law.

In a statement, a Department of Correction spokesperson says, in part "the current application of risk reduction earned credit would have held offenders, such as Fontaine, in custody for a much longer period of time. If Fontaine is convicted of the current charges lodged against him, he will be ineligible to received risk reduction earned credit."

As one woman looks to heal from a terrifying attack, police say they're happy to know they've put a dangerous man back behind bars.

"I think it's important not only for our citizens in our community but the citizens of the entire state that he gets put away,” Kalamaras said.

As for Fontaine, he’s at the Cheshire Correctional Institution.

He has pled not guilty to all of the current charges he's facing for this latest attack.

If convicted, he will not be eligible to be released early.

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