Colorado victim fights release of convicted rapist

10:32 PM, Nov 21, 2012   |    comments
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Michael Milligan is serving time for crimes in Adams County, Lakewood and Denver. He was denied parole this summer. But based on Colorado statute, he is still eligible for community corrections.

One of his victims, who asked to be called Rachel, believes Milligan should serve the rest of his 70 year term.

"It was April of 1983," she recalled. "I woke up because I couldn't breathe. There was a gentleman on top of me with a knife at my throat and said that I was going to be raped."

Rachel said Milligan didn't rape her; he fondled her and made her touch him. Lakewood police later determined he was her attacker.

"[I] tried to listen to the sound of his voice and the smell of his hands so that I could tell the police what had happened to me," Rachel said.

The events of that night traumatized the then 23-year-old. She took a shower and washed the sheets, destroying the evidence. Milligan was never convicted for her attack. But in 1984, he went to prison, convicted of four burglaries, three sexual assaults and one forgery.

Rachel fought Milligan's parole, as did Denver and Adams County District Attorney's offices, by writing to the parole board.

Recently, Rachel learned Milligan is going to have a hearing about his release to community corrections. He has four tries, or four hearings, he could ask for. If one county denies him, he could apply to another. A board in each county determines if an inmate will be admitted into the community corrections facility there.

"He doesn't deserve to go to a half-way house," Rachel said. "He hasn't tried to help himself while he was in prison, other than right before his parole."

Rachel is talking about the anger management and sexual assault classes she was told by Colorado Department of Corrections Milligan took in 2010.

DOC spokesperson couldn't confirm if Milligan took those classes, saying it was against the rules. But the DOC did say Milligan has taken multiple training courses including custodial training, maintenance and food service over the 28 years he has been incarcerated.

Milligan has had a few minor violations behind bars, but has not been written up since 2002, according to DOC records.

Doctor Evan Crist runs two community corrections programs, including "Time to Change," in Adams County. Time to Change does not accept sex offenders.

Christ says he believes in his work. He says his program helps the community overall. He said 96 percent of inmates eventually are released. They need tools to be able to live in the community and a community corrections program, or halfway house, is the way to go, Crist said.

"Right now about 80 percent of the clients are at work," he told 9NEWS on a recent tour of the Commerce City facility he runs.

"We have to know exactly when they're going to be. All clients are required to work, some of them go to school as well," he said. "This is about trying to help another person change their life, because it's better for society."

Crist said he understood where victims like Rachel were coming from, but even if an offender is denied parole, community corrections is the next step.

"I think it's the logical way to transition people back so they have the greatest chance of being successful, and successful means they're not committing new crimes," Crist said.

According to Crist, parole does not offer enough supervision, although it fits some inmates. If people go through community corrections, it cuts down on recidivism in half.

Joe Cannata runs Voices of Victims.

"The system tends to re-victimize the victims because you end up going to so many hearings," Cannata said.

Cannata said some of the programs offered in community corrections are not available in prison.

"The perfect system would be all sentences you do prison time, then eventually in community corrections, then ankle bracelet then parole. That would be an ideal system," he said.

Recently, he's been able to make a change to the law limiting the number of times a violent offender can apply for community corrections once parole has been denied.

Milligan has four tries or hearings to try to get into a half way house.

Rachel intends to fight it all the way.

"I could see him easily getting out and violation a whole new generation of women that weren't even born when he was doing this the first time," she said.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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