Laurel Co. sex offender paroled after serving 12 years of 100-year sentence

bestep@herald-leader.comOctober 20, 2011 

Anthony Lane Carroll

A Laurel County sex offender was paroled from prison earlier this month after serving less than 13 years of a 100-year sentence.

Anthony L. Carroll, 53, was eligible for parole under the law that was in place when he committed the crimes in the early 1990s.

Still, the state Parole Board didn't have to let him out of prison, said Commonwealth's Attorney Jackie Steele, whose office opposed the parole.

Steele said a jury essentially said Carroll should spend the rest of his life in prison and noted the children involved have to live with what Carroll did to them the rest of their lives.

"For him to walk out in 12 years is an insult to the victims and the Commonwealth of Kentucky," said Steele, the felony prosecutor for Laurel and Knox counties. "There's no justice in that."

The mother of the boy Carroll was convicted of molesting said she thinks Carroll had somehow "gotten some strings pulled" to get released.

"It was something that was just crazy. How could this happen?" the woman said.

The Herald-Leader is not identifying the mother because that could identify victims of sexual abuse, which is against the newspaper's policy.

Verman Winburn, chairman of the board, said in a statement there was no outside influence or pressure to parole Carroll.

"The board took into consideration the fact that he has made changes in his life and taken responsibility for his crimes," Winburn said.

He said Carroll had completed sex-offender treatment, will receive aftercare treatment, and will be supervised for the rest of his life. Carroll must register as a sex offender.

"Our hope is that he will live a law-abiding life," Winburn said.

There has been a trend toward paroling more people as officials have looked for ways to cut prison costs.

In the 2005-06 fiscal year, 43 percent of eligible inmates were paroled, while 37 percent were deferred for later consideration, according to figures supplied by the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

In the 2010-11 fiscal year, 54 percent of eligible inmates were paroled, and the deferment figure had dropped to 28 percent.

In the rest of the cases, inmates were ordered to serve out their sentence.

Jennifer Brislin, spokeswoman for the state Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said there has been a renewed focus on efforts such as substance-abuse programs and tailored parole supervision aimed at helping parolees stay out of trouble.

The Parole Board, which is independent of the Cabinet, also has better tools to assess who to parole, she said.

Parole decisions are made with public safety in mind, Brislin said.

She said state figures show the percentage of inmates paroled who commit a new crime within two or three years has gone down since 2007.

Carroll was convicted in 1999 of five counts of sodomizing a young boy.

The abuse had taken place in the early 1990s, but the boy didn't come forward until years later, after his half-sister told their mother about abuse by Carroll, their mother said.

Carroll was tried for molesting the boy, who testified in graphic detail, said Danny Evans, who prosecuted the case.

A judge followed the jury's wishes and sentenced Carroll to 100 years in prison.

There were indications the girl had been molested, as well, but Carroll was not tried for any alleged abuse of her, her mother said.

That was because officials felt it was not necessary to put the girl through the ordeal of testifying, given the 100-year sentence Carroll faced, the mother said.

Under the law in place at the time of his crimes, a person convicted of committing a violent crime had to serve half the sentence, or 12 years — whichever was less — before becoming eligible for parole.

Violent offenders must now serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.

Carroll had served time in a local jail before going to a state prison. He became eligible for parole in January 2011 after serving 12 years.

Under another rule, he had to complete a sex-offender treatment program. He finished that in May and went before a two-member panel of the Parole Board on Aug. 10.

Carroll told board members Larry Chandler and Neeka Parks that he had sodomized a boy about once a month over the course of 18 months in 1991 and 1992, according to a recording of the meeting.

Carroll said he had problems with money, substance abuse and his marriage at the time and was in denial about being bisexual.

He told the board members he guessed molesting the boy "was some sick way of getting back" at his wife, acknowledging that mind-set was "very disturbing."

"I wasn't thinking rational," he told the two board members.

Carroll said he touched the little girl inappropriately one time and acknowledged inflicting terrible damage on the boy.

"I'm horrified by my actions," he said.

He said he did not question the jury's decision.

"I got what I deserved," he said in the August hearing.

However, Carroll also said he had sobered up in prison, done a lot of soul-searching and tried to get better.

Carroll, who was finishing a degree in social work when he was arrested on the sodomy charges, told the board there would be little risk of him reoffending if released.

Chandler told Carroll the board must consider the integrity of the system and the propriety of the sentence.

However, Chandler said, the board also has to balance that with what Carroll has done since.

"We see some positives here," Chandler said, according to the recording.

Chandler and Parks decided to parole Carroll but did require that he complete substance-abuse treatment.

There was a glitch, however.

The Parole Board said it had tried to notify the victim's family of the hearing, but the family did not get the notice, according to the mother.

In addition, Steele said Carroll's name was not on a list of upcoming parole hearings his office received before the August hearing.

Steele said his office received a notice Carroll had been paroled after the meeting.

Steele's office asked the board to give the office an opportunity to locate the victims' family so they could make a statement to the board.

Dennie Mills, the victims' advocate in Steele's office, quickly located the victim's mother.

The mother, her husband and Mills spoke to the full board on Oct. 10, the mother said.

She urged the board not to parole Carroll.

However, the board voted 6 to 2 to uphold the August decision, though it did add the condition that Carroll stay out of counties where the person he molested, and members of his family, live.

The mother said she and her husband are putting in a fence and considering getting a dog, and her daughter is thinking of getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"We've got to be on the lookout now," she said.