Victim speaks out after California parole board agrees to release violent rapist

Leticia Juarez Image
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Victim speaks out after parole board agrees to release violent rapist
A convicted rapist sentenced to 170 years in prison may soon walk free, and one of his victims is speaking out about his release.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- A convicted rapist sentenced to 170 years in prison may soon walk free, and one of his victims is speaking out about his release.

The victim was 14-years-old when Cody Klemp began raping her in his home. She was a foster child and his niece. Earlier this month, she recounted her horrifying ordeal to the California Parole Board in an attempt convince the board not to release him.

"Victims have to muster up the emotional and physical strength to relive everything and basically to burn yourself at the cross in an attempt to save others from being harmed," she told Eyewitness News.

But it seems her pleas fell on deaf ears. Klemp, now 67 years old, was granted early release after serving less than three decades of his 170-year sentence.

His release isn't the only concern. She is terrified of what Klemp promised to do to her for coming forward about the abuse.

"He threatened me openly to law enforcement and it's on record that if he is ever released he's going to kill me," she said.

Klemp's release falls under California's Elderly Parole Program, which allows prisoners to become eligible after reaching the age of 50 and being continuously incarcerated for 20 years, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

"One of the considerations was because he was physically incapable, but he clearly told the board that if he where tempted rape again, he would get on his bicycle and drive to the nearest college," she said.

One he's released, she believes it will be only a matter of time before he reoffends.

"He went to Patton as a mentally disordered sex offender, where all he got was treatment. If he were able to be rehabilitated, that was the place. He was treated by specialist... He was released and he got better, he raped a child after that," the victim said.

She was the child he raped, an experience she was forced to relive for the California Parole Board in the hopes they'd revoke his attempts at early release.

"Re-victimizing all of us, my family, my husband, my kids - the new life I've tried to build away from him," she said.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office also lobbied against the release.

"It's shocking that this is even considered. This individual should not be released," said District Attorney Michael Hestrin. "I don't think the law of early release and elderly parole was intended for someone like this."

The D.A.'s office said it will file an appeal to the Parole Board and send a letter to Gov. Gavin Newson requesting a hearing to reconsider Klemp's release.

"This is about how the spirit of reform became lost and because of this, women, children, and the vulnerable will become new victims, or the current victims will be revictimized," said the victim. "There is a need to modify reform laws to exclude adults who have committed sexual offenses. To exclude those with violence against the vulnerable. To recognize that we can differentiate between those who might have murdered as a gang member when they were young because they were caught up due to demographics, racism, poverty-- from those who have a propensity or disposition to sexual harm."

Klemp's release is contingent on a final review from Newsom.

"What I would say to Governor Newsom is if he is truly here to serve, if he really cares about his people, protect them," she said.

If the governor does not overturn the parole board's ruling, Klemp could be released as early as March 2024.

In a statement, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said the parole board found Klemp "suitable for parole" on Nov. 8.

"If a person is found suitable, it does not mean the automatic release of an incarcerated person. All grants of parole are tentative and become final only after a thorough and comprehensive review by the Board of Parole Hearings, which can take up to 120 days. Parole decisions that become final are subject to review by the Governor, which takes up to 30 days," the department said.