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Benjamin LaGuer, convicted rapist who insisted on innocence, released on medical parole

Benjamin LaGuer, the convicted rapist who maintained his innocence for decades and won high-profile supporters along the way, was released on medical parole Wednesday, officials said.

The state Parole Board set a number of conditions on his release. He must be at home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., must be outfitted with electronic monitoring, and must stay away from the late victim’s family or any prosecution witness, officials said.

LaGuer, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a Leominster neighbor in 1983, is dying of liver cancer, his lawyers said. Last month, he asked a Worcester Superior Court judge to reverse Department of Correction Commissioner Carol A. Micci’s decision that he remained a threat to public safety and did not qualify for medical parole.


"I do not believe that, at this time, he will live and remain at liberty without violating the law and I continue to believe that his release will be incompatible with the welfare of society,'' she wrote.

Her denial cited medical data from last year and as recent as Jan. 2. But in a more recent review of his medical status, Dr. Kevan Hartshorn, his treating oncologist/hematologist at Boston Medical Center, said LaGuer’s outlook was grim.

“His survival now is measured in weeks or at best a few months," Hartshorn wrote in a Jan. 9 letter. “It is unlikely that further treatments can be safely given or will help to control the cancer ... there is little we can do now and his survival is now very limited... he is now appropriate for home hospice care.”

Hartshorn has been treating LaGuer for liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver for several years.

During his long incarceration, LaGuer has consistently maintained his innocence and drawn prominent supporters to his cause, including former Governor Deval Patrick and John Silber, the late president of Boston University.


But courts — including the Supreme Judicial Court — have consistently upheld his convictions for the July 1983 attack on a 59-year-old woman that lasted for hours and left her apartment covered in blood. The woman, who identified LaGuer to police and on the witness stand during his trial, has since died.

LaGuer’s claim of innocence was also undermined when he admitted in 2003 that he mixed a forensic saliva sample with another inmate’s so he could not be matched to biological evidence recovered at the scene, and by DNA testing in 2002 that matched his semen to that found at the crime scene.

LaGuer has insisted the sperm sample was planted by police.

LaGuer was being held in the North Central Correctional Center in Gardner, a medium-security prison.

Martin Finucane can be reached at John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him @JREbosglobe.