Friday 6 November 2020

Rapist who was jailed for 326 years for terrorizing a California community and attacking seven women over three years nearly walked FREE under new parole laws

 A Del Mar man who confessed to breaking into homes and sexually assaulting women almost walked free this week under new local parole laws.  

Officials on Wednesday denied Robert Dean Rustad's bid for parole after he served just over two decades of his 326 year prison sentence. 

'Justice was served today because the panel saw through that this inmate was not truthful about his true motivation for these crimes,' said Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs, per the Del Mar Times

Sachs told Del Mar Times that Rustad claimed his reprehensible behavior was prompted by a desire for a romantic relationship.

'His motivation was clearly sadistic sexual pleasure, and his inability to accept that makes him an extreme threat to society,' Sachs added.

Rustad, now 46, was first sentenced to California prison in 1997 after terrorizing the Del Mar community from 1993 to 1996. He was between the ages of 19 and 22.

Over three years, Rustad attacked seven women after following them home and later sneaking in through unlocked doors. 

Five were sexually assaulted, including two victims who were raped and three who were forced to perform sexual acts.

Most were held at knifepoint and tied up by Rustad, who was a young MiraCosta College student and local resident.

One victim was severely beaten and had her hair pulled out. 

The frightening attacks ended when one victim followed Rustad as he fled her home. She screamed and chased down her attacker until bypassers intervened.

At the time, Rustad pleaded guilty to three dozen charges and was placed in Valley State Prison in the Central Valley.    

But on Wednesday, Del Mar Times reports that Rustad made a plea for his release based on new local parole laws.  

Current laws now take into account an offender's age at the time of the crime, meaning young people can gain parole after serving 25 years in prison.

That law previously excluded offenders convicted under the one-strike sex offense law, as Rustad was, but an appellate court last year determined that exclusion was unconstitutional, Del Mar Times reports.

Rustad will remain in Valley State Prison (pictured)  in the Central Valley, but will become eligible for 'elder parole' in four years

Rustad will remain in Valley State Prison (pictured)  in the Central Valley, but will become eligible for 'elder parole' in four years 

Two of his victims told Del Mar Times that regardless of his time spent behind bars, Rustad is still a threat to the community.

'I was assured that I would never have to be concerned that he could hurt me or anyone else ever again,' one victim told the publication

Another added that he was 'dangerous' and 'this is not about him paying for what he did or punishment. This is about keeping the community safe. We know what this guy did.'

She said news that Rustad nearly walked free put her on 'an emotional rollercoaster ... almost like the day he burst in ... and grabbed me.'

Rustad's attorney, Jared Eisenstat, argued to Del Mar Times that his client's youth at the time of the crimes should be considered as a factor due to the way a brain changes over a person's life. 

Eisenstat added that Rustad felt 'genuine remorse' for his actions.

But Sachs wasn't sold on Rustad's alleged repentance. 

'All of these is a slap in the face to our victims, and a miscarriage of justice that they even have to sit through this hearing— and suffer the ordeal of the pain and terror of the potential for his release,' he told Del Mar Times.    

Rustad will remain in Valley State Prison for now, but that could potentially change in four years. 

California state has approved some offenders to be released under 'elder parole,' which required eligible inmates to be at least 50-years-old and served at least 20 years.

After the hearing on Wednesday, parole officials recommended that Rustad should not be eligible for consideration until 2025.   

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