‘Manoa Rapist’ to stay in prison for now, release options coming

John Freudenberg
John Freudenberg

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He terrorized an Oahu neighborhood in the 1980s, raping 16 women.

On Monday, the man known as the “Manoa Rapist” went before a parole board, asking for a second chance.

In the end, the board decided to keep John Freudenberg locked up.

KHON2 found out that while he won’t be getting out soon, he is a step closer to being released for a test-run at freedom. A work-release program is being beefed up to handle Freudenberg, and a potential federal lawsuit looms if they don’t hurry.

Freudenberg raped and sodomized women in Manoa over a 14-month crime spree in the 1980s.

“Being awoken by a man who is straddling them with a knife to her throat and ultimately raping them,” recounted Lynn Costales, of the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office, “one woman with a daughter in the room next to her.”

He’s been turned down for parole over and over since the 1990s, coming before the Hawaii Paroling Authority board at Halawa Correctional Facility again Monday.

“The pain that I caused my victims, I don’t want to do that again,” Freudenberg said. “I do not want to do that again.”

The prosecutor’s office doesn’t buy it.

“The man in front of you seeking parole is essentially the same man who was out there committing these offenses in the 1980s,” Costales said.

The Paroling Authority has seen improvements in Freudenberg and has long been in support of giving freedom a try through supervised work furlough. They rattle off six multiple times he’s completed the sex offender treatment program or “SOTP”: “At Kulani, then again at Halawa,” board member Michael Town says, reading from the inmate’s file. “He has 20 years of ‘SOTP,’ more than any other inmate. He’s been ready for furlough since 1995.”

The catch? Furlough isn’t parole, and it’s run and decided by the Department of Public Safety. They’ve not pulled Freudenberg out yet to try.

“We’re asking you to parole him,” said Freudenberg’s attorney Myles Breiner, “because we can’t get furlough.”

The board’s answer: No again, with that asterisk.

“There’s so much change that’s occurred in 30 years that we, too, do not want to set you up for failure,” authority Chairman Bert Matsuoka told Freudenberg. “We’re going to deny parole. Work furlough for you. And we’ll see you in 11 months.”

The board chair says they’ve talked with Public Safety about getting things going for the work release.

DPS Director Ted Sakai told KHON2, “We agree with the Hawaii Paroling Authority’s recommendation for work furlough…He will need a carefully structured reentry plan.”

“When the time comes,” Sakai added, “We will re-evaluate him for the possibility of entering the work furlough program.”

We pushed for more specifics — like, when will the time come? The department said they’ve recently brought up staffing, and now they’re just trying to get the program up to speed.

Freudenberg’s attorney says it’s not moving quickly enough.

“I don’t know what the solution is,” Breiner said, “other than bringing a federal lawsuit regarding Mr. Freudenberg’s civil rights.”

KHON2 will keep tabs on the status of that legal action and of the work furlough.

At Monday’s hearing, the prosecutor’s office said they’ll be fighting DPS against the work release, too.

Related story: Serial rapist just needs work furlough for parole

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