As Arkansas governor, GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee pushed for the parole of rapist Wayne Dumond despite chilling testimonies from other victims and their relatives that he was a dangerous criminal who would strike again.
Dumond, serving a life sentence for raping a 17-year-old girl, was released in 1999 following reported public and private efforts by Huckabee on his behalf.
Within a year of Dumond's release, he was accused of raping and murdering two more women. He was convicted of raping and murdering one of the women and returned to jail, where he died in 2005.
Huckabee now says he wished he "knew more" about the killer's dangerous tendencies before he advocated his release. But new documents published by the Huffington Post Web site show he did -- or should have.
Documentation of Dumond's dangerousness -- including graphic, emotional letters from his alleged victims and their family members -- was in Huckabee's gubernatorial files at the time he was advocating Dumond's release, the site reports.
After first denying the letters were genuine, a spokesperson for Huckabee now confirms at least one of these letters was received by his gubernatorial office.
The documents were provided to a reporter several years ago by a Huckabee aide, according to the Huffington Post Web site, which published them today.
In one, a woman tells of how Dumond raped her daughter, while her three-year-old grandchild looked on.
"I am also a rape victim of Dumond's," reads another heavily-underlined, bolded letter to Huckabee from the file. "Please reconsider your decision to release Dumond."
Huckabee even met with one victim, Ashley Stevens, whose rape had put Dumond behind bars in 1985.
Stevens said she put her face inches from Huckabee's and said, "This is how close I was to Wayne Dumond, and I will never forget his face, and you will never forget mine. He's the one that raped me."
Shortly afterward, in a closed-door session with the state parole board, Huckabee urged them to recommend Dumond be freed, according to the one member who voted against the then-governor.
"He said the case I want to talk to you about is Wayne Dumond, and this is a guy who may have grown up on the wrong side of the tracks and may have gotten a raw deal," Prof. Charles Chastain told ABC News.
Tuesday, Huckabee described the meeting differently.
"At their invitation I went to their meeting, someone brought up his case," he said. "Frankly it was simply part of a broader discussion. I did not ask them to do anything."
Some observers in Arkansas disagree.
"The record clearly shows now Mike Huckabee did advocate for Wayne Dumond's release," said David J. Sanders, a political columnist for Stephens Media. "I think there are real questions about whether he has been forthright on this issue."