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Shelter defends actions amid rape case

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The Salvation Army claimed it's not responsible for the parolee who failed to check into its shelter, and was arrested for rape about 15 hours later.

23-year-old Michael Caruthers was supposed to go straight from prison to the shelter and check in there by 5 p.m. Friday but the parolee never showed.

"Conflict came in that he was released on a Friday," Major Judy Hart said that if a parolee does not arrive as scheduled, shelter administrators are to contact the parole office on the next business day.

Hart said the shelter followed state protocol. "I'm not sure why the blame seems to come back to us at the Salvation Army because someone who was not in our program, he never checked into our program."

The program at the shelter did not see Caruthers until police arrived to talk to staff Saturday morning--already in custody, Caruthers was in the back of a police cruiser.

"A young girl was raped down the street," Hart said, "it's absolutely devastating this happened." Hart said she doesn't know who was responsible for monitoring Caruthers but says blame does not fall on the Salvation Army.

A representative for the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said DOCCS supervises parolees post release and Caruthers had 24 business hours to report for that supervision.

The time between when a person is released from prison until they have to report to the parole office is something of a gray area.

Hart said the shelter will have to reevaluate its procedures and how the Salvation Army works with the DOCCS.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said, "That's something that we need to discuss with our state legislature and our state prison system.  Unfortunately that's something that they control and having this happen again, as I said is a tragedy."

Mayor Warren called the attack an "isolated incident" but says it's important to start conversations with state leaders to make sure the community can feel safe.

Hart said, "The truth of the matter is, nobody wanted this man to be paroled and the law stated that he had to be paroled and I think that has a lot to do with our problems right now."

Caruthers was denied parole twice--Hart said had the shelter known the Parole Board found Caruthers to be a risk, the shelter would not have agreed to house him.

 
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