Hawaii rapist sues to join work furlough program


HONOLULU — A convicted rapist who has served more than 30 years in prison after being sentenced to 12 life terms has filed a lawsuit against state officials claiming he has a right to join a work furlough program.

John Freudenberg, 54, dubbed the “Manoa Rapist” in the early 1980s, sued Department of Public Safety Director Ted Sakai and Corrections Division head Max Otani, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court, Freudenberg says the Hawaii Paroling Authority since 1996 has repeatedly recommended him for work furlough as a precursor to parole. However, Sakai, Otani and their predecessors kept him from the program, he said.

The furlough program allows inmates to work or look for work during the day and return to Laumaka Work Furlough Center at night.

Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said the department will not comment on pending litigation.

Freudenberg was charged with a string of home break-ins and sexual assaults over 14 months, the newspaper said.

He pleaded guilty in 1983 to seven counts of rape and attempted rape, five counts of sodomy and attempted sodomy, 19 counts of burglary and attempted burglary, and six counts of sexual abuse.

In 1984, Freudenberg was sentenced to 12 life prison terms and multiple 20- and 10-year terms.

The Hawaii Paroling Authority told Freudenberg he would spend at least 20 years in prison before he was eligible for parole. The authority in 1990 reduced that to 14 years.

Freudenberg lawyer Myles Breiner said his client has been denied access to the furlough program because “they’re taking the position that Freudenberg is in a special category. He’s not.”

Department statistics show that only 3 percent of Hawaii felons convicted of sex crimes re-offend. Sexual offenders assessed to be at greater risk of reoffending have been put on work furlough, he said.

Sakai and Otani may have rejected Freudenberg because of opposition from Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, Breiner said.

Kaneshiro said he has a duty to protect the public.

“I opposed work furlough for Freudenberg because of his acts and because I believe he continues to pose a threat to the community,” he said.