RAPE JITTERS (Alex Kelly free today)

Alex Kelly, 40, Connecticut's preppy rapist, who spent eight years on the lam in Europe, skiing and partying while avoiding trial, was up for parole in 2005 after serving less than half of his sentence, leaving the victims he brutally attacked as teens outraged.  In 1986, Kelly was 18 and a Darien High School wrestling star from a wealthy family.  He already had been in prison for a series of house burglaries linked to a drug dependency when he raped his 16 year old neighbor, Adrienne Bak, as he drove her home from a party.  He raped 17 year old Hillary Buchanan days later, after driving her away from another party.  He was convicted at trial in June 1997 of raping Bak, and a year later, pleaded no contest to raping Buchanan.  In addition to their cases, five other women have told prosecutors and an author that Kelly raped them when he was a teen, although he has never been charged with those attacks.  In 1987, on the eve of trial for the rapes, Kelly fled the United States and spent nearly eight years traveling abroad, mostly in Europe.  He surrendered in Switzerland in 1995 and returned to Connecticut to face trial.  At arraignment, prosecutors said that while first awaiting trial in 1986, before he fled, he traveled abroad in violation of his bail and raped a 13 year old girl in the Bahamas.  

Kelly was supposed to serve at least 85 percent of his 16 year prison sentence for the Bak and Buchanan cases before being eligible for release.  But both of those victims recently learned that two Connecticut Supreme court decisions mean Kelly's sentence is being treated as if it were imposed under laws in effect in 1986, meaning that he is eligible for parole after serving slightly less than half of his time.  If he is granted parole as he requested in a recent application, he could be released from prison on July 7.

On March 3, 2005, a parole board denied an early release for Kelly after his victims gave impassioned speeches to keep him behind bars.  He put on his best behavior during the 30 minute hearing, apologizing for the pain he caused, but quickly soured when his request was shot down.  Board of Pardons Chairman Gregory Everett had to interrupt Kelly several times to tell him the hearing was over, and that the only way to get out of jail before his scheduled release date was to maintain his model prison behavior and pay his $10,000 fine.

Kelly is set to walk free from the Connecticut prison today, a decade after being convicted.  His imminent release from prison has stirred fears among some residents in his native Darien, where he will live with his parents.  But a long list of tough rules he must follow while on probation for the next five years is likely to keep the sex fiend on a short leash.