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Attorney General Nessel Files Emergency Appeal to Reverse Parole of Convicted Rapist and Kidnapper, Secures Stay of Release

LANSING – This morning, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed an emergency parole appeal in the 22nd Circuit Court in Washtenaw County to reverse the parole granted to John Robert Lee, 44, incarcerated at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in JacksonThe Attorney General additionally filed a motion requesting a temporary stay of Lee’s release on parole, which had been scheduled for January 11th. The motion to halt the parole while the Attorney General’s appeal is considered was granted by the Court this morning.

Lee pled No Contest in 1999 to Kidnapping and First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct for the rape of 13-year-old girl. Lee ordered the victim, who was riding her bicycle near her home, into his truck at gunpoint, and drove her to his mothers house and raped her on the floor of the garageLee does not dispute the facts of his crimes, and was given two consecutive life sentences, with the possibility of paroleThe Parole Board granted a 48-month term of parole on December 13th, 2023The victim’s mother contacted the Department of Attorney General in early 2024 seeking assistance to prevent Lee’s release. 

Upon review the Department concluded, per the filed appeal, the Parole Board’s decision to “grant Lee parole is a clear abuse of the Board’s discretion.”

Lee is obviously not a suitable candidate for parole, and the Parole Board plainly made the wrong decision,” said Nessel. It is clear from records of his incarceration and attempted treatment that he does not exhibit an appropriate understanding of the devastation his kidnap and rape of a child caused. There is not sufficient evidence of rehabilitation or meaningful remorse, and he should remain in prison. My office is taking immediate action to protect public safety, and potential future victims, by keeping Lee behind bars.

In its filing the Department heavily cites material documenting Lee’s mental state and notions of personal accountability spanning his 25 years’ incarceration.  

Contained in a pre-sentence screening report from 1999, the author wrote that Lee’s “matter-of-fact tone during the interview reflects an indifference as to how his actions may affect others. Flawed logic and impaired judgement are very much evident... He seems incapable of recognizing both the seriousness and the wrongfulness of his conduct." And that “With his random selection of the victim, he committed the type of crime that society fears the most and from which it is least able to defend itself.”

During his incarceration, Lee has exhibited behavior not compatible with release. In therapy he has expressed a “good deal of hurt and anger towards women,” and has in cognitive, behavioral, and sexual recidivism assessments scored in ranges indicating “antisocial thinking”, an “above average risk” of sexually reoffending, “some concern” with hostility toward women, and the Michigan Department of Corrections to this day classifies Lee a “priority risk” of reoffending. 

Additionally, the victim spoke at the public hearing on Lee’s parole, telling the parole board: “This one single afternoon completely changed the trajectory of my life and ruined any semblance of a happy childhood. I had never kissed a boy before, had only started my period a year prior and thought I had five years before my first gynecologist visit. Instead, my first sexual experience with a man was a violent rape, and instead of a first visit with an OB/GYN, I was subjected to an invasive rape kit in the ER. Every part of my naked body was examined and photographed. Every item I was wearing was sealed in an evidence bag, never to be returned to me. I was 13 years old.

“The physical trauma didn’t stop there, though, as I was given Plan B to prevent an extremely unwanted pregnancy, an emergency antiviral medication in case of HIV exposure. This cocktail of medications was very strong and made me quite ill. I fainted that first night and hit my head hard on the wall on the way down. This was how I spent my 8th grade spring break.”

As she continued, she told the Board, “I have looked this person in the eyes, and I truly believe that something in him is broken. His heart is cold. He does not have the capacity for empathy or love. If given the chance, he will do it again. His mistake was letting me live, and I don’t think he’d make that mistake again with his next victim.”

Judge Carol Kuhnke granted the motion to stay Lee’s parole pending the Attorney General’s appeal this morning, January 10th. Lee will remain incarcerated while the appeal is heard. A status conference has been set in the 22nd Circuit Court for January 30th.


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