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Parole board grants release of rapist decades early

More than 500 criminal case dismissals countywide

November 17, 2023

The state Board of Parole Hearings has agreed to release a convicted rapist 29 years into a 170-year prison sentence. This move comes over the objections of the victim and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

In 1994, Cody Woodsen Klemp, DOB: 4-16-56, was convicted of 40 felonies involving the repeated rape of his 14-year-old niece. The teenager had been placed in the care of her uncle in 1990, even though he had twice been convicted of rape. The child escaped from the home in Moreno Valley, and eventually disclosed the abuse to her therapist, who reported the crimes to authorities. When Klemp was located, he was already in jail, facing charges of domestic violence, child abuse and violating his parole.

In case CR50622, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office successfully prosecuted Klemp on 20 counts of committing a lewd and lascivious act on a child, 10 counts of rape, and 10 counts of forced oral copulation on a child. The trial court also heard evidence Klemp threatened to kill the victim for going public and acknowledged Klemp had been convicted of rape in 1976 and 1981. 

Despite this, on Nov. 8, the state parole board cited Klemp’s ‘low risk for violence,’ age, and marketable skills, as consideration for finding him suitable for parole. Klemp is now 67 years old. If the board does not rescind its finding, he will be released on or before March 15, 2024.

“Although this practice of early release is far from unusual these days, considering the inmate’s particularly violent criminal history, and admissions to the parole board itself, it is shocking that such a release would be considered,” said District Attorney Mike Hestrin.  “This is a devastating blow to victims, and our office will continue to fight on their behalf.”

The Riverside County DA’s Office plans to appeal the decision and send a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom 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 is eligible for parole under the Elderly Parole Program. This program requires the Board of Parole Hearings to give special consideration to whether age, time served, and diminished physical condition, if any, have reduced the elderly inmate’s risk of violence. Previously, California Penal Code section 3055(a) allowed for parole review of inmates 60 years or older who served a minimum of 25 years of continuous incarceration on their sentence. However, the enactment of AB 3234 in 2021 reduced the minimum age for the program to 50 years or older, and the minimum years of continuous incarceration to 20.

Those who are opposed to the modification of the Elderly Parole Program minimum eligibility requirements and releases such as this one, may contact Governor Gavin Newsom at 1021 O Street, Suite 9000, Sacramento, CA 95814 or by calling (916) 445-2841.