Documents Expose Huckabee's Role in Serial Rapist's Release

Little Rock, Ark -- As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee aggressively pushed for the early release of a convicted rapist despite being warned by numerous women that the convict had sexually assaulted them or their family members, and would likely strike again. The convict went on to rape and murder at least one other woman.

Confidential Arkansas state government records, including letters from these women, obtained by the Huffington Post and revealed publicly for the first time, directly contradict the version of events now being put forward by Huckabee.

While on the campaign trail, Huckabee has claimed that he supported the 1999 release of Wayne Dumond because, at the time, he had no good reason to believe that the man represented a further threat to the public. Thanks to Huckabee's intervention, conducted in concert with a right-wing tabloid campaign on Dumond's behalf, Dumond was let out of prison 25 years before his sentence would have ended.

"There's nothing any of us could ever do," Huckabee said Sunday on CNN when asked to reflect on the horrific outcome caused by the prisoner's release. "None of us could've predicted what [Dumond] could've done when he got out."

But the confidential files obtained by the Huffington Post show that Huckabee was provided letters from several women who had been sexually assaulted by Dumond and who indeed predicted that he would rape again - and perhaps murder - if released.

In a letter that has never before been made public, one of Dumond's victims warned: "I feel that if he is released it is only a matter of time before he commits another crime and fear that he will not leave a witness to testify against him the next time." Before Dumond was granted parole at Huckabee's urging, records show that Huckabee's office received a copy of this letter from Arkansas' parole board.

The woman later wrote directly to Huckabee about having been raped by Dumond. In a letter obtained by the Huffington Post, she said that Dumond had raped her while holding a butcher knife to her throat, and while her then-3-year-old daughter lay in bed next to her. Also included in the files sent to Huckabee's office was a police report in which Dumond confessed to the rape. Dumond was not charged in that particular case because he later refused to sign the confession and because the woman was afraid to press charges.

See the full letters sent to Huckabee's office here.]


Huckabee kept these and other documents secret because they were politically damaging, according to a former aide who worked for him in Arkansas. The aide has made the records available to the Huffington Post, deeply troubled by Huckabee's repeated claims that he had no reason to believe Dumond would commit other violent crimes upon his release from prison. The aide also believes that Huckabee, for political reasons, has deliberately attempted to cover up his knowledge of Dumond's other sexual assaults.



"There were no letters sent to the governor's office from any rape victims," Huckabee campaign spokesperson Alice Stewart said on Tuesday when contacted by the Huffington Post.



Subsequently, however, the campaign provided a former senior aide of Huckabee's who did remember reading at least one of the letters.



But Huckabee and his aides insist that his receipt of the letters is irrelevant because the decision to release Dumond was made by the parole board. Huckabee on Tuesday again denied allegations by former parole board members that he lobbied them to release Dumond. "I did not ask them to do anything," he said. "I did indicate [Dumond's case] was sitting at my desk and I was giving thought to it."



Charmaine Yoest, a senior adviser to the Huckabee campaign, told the Huffington Post: "I think what should be considered here is that if he [Huckabee] could have changed what happened, he would. His whole life has been about respect for life and understanding the value of each individual life. Nobody regrets the loss of life here more than him."



In 1996, as a newly elected governor who had received strong support from the Christian right, Huckabee was under intense pressure from conservative activists to pardon Dumond or commute his sentence. The activists claimed that Dumond's initial imprisonment and various other travails were due to the fact that Ashley Stevens, the high school cheerleader he had raped, was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton, and the daughter of a major Clinton campaign contributor.



The case for Dumond's innocence was championed in Arkansas by Jay Cole, a Baptist minister and radio host who was a close friend of the Huckabee family. It also became a cause for New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy, who repeatedly argued for Dumond's release, calling his conviction "a travesty of justice." On Sept. 21, 1999, Dunleavy wrote a column headlined "Clinton's Biggest Crime - Left Innocent Man In Jail For 14 Years":



"Dumond, now 52, was given conditional parole yesterday in Arkansas after having being sentenced to 50 years in jail for the rape of Clinton's cousin," Dunleavy wrote. "That rape never happened."



A subsequent Dunleavy column quoted Huckabee saying: "There is grave doubt to the circumstances of this reported crime."



After Dumond's release from prison in September 1999, he moved to Smithville, Missouri, where he raped and suffocated to death a 39-year-old woman named Carol Sue Shields. Dumond was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison for that rape and murder.



But Dumond's arrest for those crimes in June 2001 came too late for 23-year-old Sara Andrasek of Platte County, Missouri. Dumond allegedly raped and murdered her just one day before his arrest for raping and murdering Shields. Prior to the attack, Andrasek and her husband had learned that she was pregnant with their first child.



Dumond died of natural causes while in prison on September 1, 2005. At the time of his death, Missouri authorities were readying capital murder charges against Dumond for the rape and murder of Andrasek.



* * *



Huckabee has refused to release his gubernatorial administration's records on the matter, saying that he was concerned for the privacy of Dumond's victims and that the records contain sensitive law enforcement information.



The Arkansas Parole Board also refuses to make public any letters or warnings it received from Drumond's victims. "We don't release comments for or against a clemency application or a parole case," the Board's spokesperson told Huffington Post, "except when they are comments from public officials."



But most of the women assaulted by Dumond and interviewed for this story say that Huckabee could have made information public while guarding their privacy. Law enforcement authorities also scoffed at the idea that anything in the records would have harmed an ongoing investigation since Dumond is no longer alive .



The records revealed in this story -- including correspondence between Dumond's victims and Huckabee, as well as the governor's own file regarding Dumond -- were provided to me in the fall of 2002 by a Republican staffer to then-Gov. Huckabee.



I made the decision not to make the files public at that time because of concern for the privacy of the rape victims and their families. I felt that their right to privacy outweighed the public's right to know, although I understand why many people would disagree.



Now that Huckabee is running for president, and after consulting with the victims and their families, I have decided to proceed, given what his actions on the case - and his attempts to whitewash his involvement in it -- say about his judgment and integrity.



During a 2002 bid by Huckabee to be re-elected governor of Arkansas, the staffer who provided the documents attended a meeting where Huckabee and top aides expressed concerns that information in the files showing that other women had told Huckabee about being raped by Dumond might somehow become public, and thus become an issue for his opponent. The information remained secret, and Huckabee won a tight race for re-election.



The staffer said that during that same period, another senior aide to Huckabee suggested asking other state agencies, which might have portions or even the entirety of the Dumond file, to transfer their records to the governor's office. If the files were transferred, the aide to Huckabee said, they would no longer be obtainable by reporters or political opponents under the state's Freedom of Information statute.



Arkansas has one of the most progressive Freedom of Information laws in the country. People need only to make requests orally whereupon state officials have to quickly respond and make them public. Governors, in sharp contrast, have wide latitude in deciding which of their own files to make public.



"The files had to be disappeared because there just wasn't a plausible explanation for the governor's stance," the former staffer said. "I mean, what could the governor say? That he believes these women made up their stories? That women lie when they say they are raped?"



Asked on Tuesday whether Huckabee would release his file on Dumond, campaign spokesperon Alice Stewart said, "We're not the governor, we don't have the file." Asked if Huckabee would ask the current governor to release the file, she responded, "No. I don't want to see it. You apparently want to see it."



* * *



Dumond raped Ashley Stevens, Clinton's distant cousin, in 1984 when she was a 17-year-old high school student in Forest City, Arkansas.



He was convicted in 1985 and sentenced to life in prison, plus 20 years. In 1992, Jim Guy Tucker, who became governor of Arkansas after Clinton left office, reduced Dumond's sentence to 39.5 years.



Shortly after taking office in 1996, Huckabee announced his intention to commute Dumond's sentence to time served. A public outcry ensued.



Stevens, her father, and Fletcher Long, the Arkansas state prosecuting attorney who sent Dumond to prison, met with Huckabee to protest.



"'This is how close I was to Wayne Dumond,'" Stevens says she told Huckabee at the time. "'I will never forget his face. And now I don't want you ever to forget my face.'"


Stevens now says: "This isn't and was never about politics. This is about a rapist. This is about a murderer. ... I might never forget Dumond's face, but there are other women [for whom] Dumond's face was the last thing they ever saw on this earth... I would hope that Huckabee would remember the faces of his victims."



Stevens, who had been silent about her rape and not identified in the press for more than a dozen years, finally spoke out publicly in 1996 after feeling frustrated by her meeting with Huckabee. Twenty women members of the state House of Representatives protested the commutation proposal. The editorial pages of some Arkansas newspapers questioned Huckabee's judgment and suggested he reconsider.



What the public never knew, however, was that other women who had been sexually assaulted by Dumond had privately written Huckabee about their anguish. Their very private attempts at changing Huckabee's mind, they later told the Huffington Post, were based on concerns that speaking out publicly would have been too painful and traumatizing.



One such letter was from the daughter of a Dumond rape victim:

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