The Corner

Huckabee and Dumond, Cont’d

The Huffington Post has released the documents concerning the Wayne Dumond case that it referenced but did not publish last week.  When the website published its story last week, it referred to “numerous women” and “several women” who warned then-Gov. Mike Huckabee that Wayne Dumond would rape again, or even commit murder, if he were freed.  But even though it advertised “Exclusive: The Complete Huckabee-Dumond Files,” it posted just three letters, all concerning one incident, an alleged rape that took place on September 8, 1976.  

I asked Thomas Edsall, who is the political editor at the Huffington Post, as well as a special correspondent for the New Republic and the Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, about the other women.  He told me that the “documents we obtained from Huckabee’s file include 12 letters from eight women, three of whom say explicitly that they were raped or sexually assaulted by Dumond.”  For reasons that are not clear to me, the Huffington Post chose not to post most of those documents, even though it referred to them in its story.

Now it has.  By my count, the site has posted 13 documents.  Six of them are letters addressed to the Arkansas Parole Board, which is the body that granted parole to Dumond.  Three are letters addressed to Huckabee.  Two are addressed to “Dear Sir” and “To Whom it May Concern,” which is probably the Parole Board or Huckabee.  And two are affidavits prepared by police officers.

Four of the documents, including the two affidavits, date from 1990, meaning they were written during the Clinton administration in Arkansas, when Huckabee was still a Baptist minister.  Seven of the documents concern the September 8, 1976 incident mentioned earlier.  One is a letter to the Parole Board from Ashley Stevens, who was raped in 1984 by Dumond in the notorious and well-known case that started the controversy.  And one – written to the Clinton-era Parole Board in September 1990 – concerns a previously unknown 1976 incident in which Dumond allegedly broke into a woman’s house in the middle of the night, stood over her with a knife and began to assault her, only to realize that her boyfriend was asleep next to her, and then ran away.  It appears that the writer was a neighbor of the September 8, 1976 victim.

As I wrote a few days ago, “Huckabee will need to address more fully the accounts of Dumond’s victims, or relatives of Dumond’s victims, who say they warned the governor that Dumond might rape again, or even commit murder.  Did Huckabee take their views into account?”  Huckabee has talked about this case a lot, but he still has more to explain.

Huckabee, who wanted to grant clemency to Dumond but then backed off after a popular outcry, was dreadfully wrong about Dumond.  But the Huffington Post documents show that the Dumond case stretched over the years, giving others a chance to be wrong about Dumond, too.  It is simply true that the only man to grant clemency to Dumond was then-Lt. Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, who in 1992 commuted Dumond’s sentence to a level where Dumond would be eligible for parole.  A newspaper account at the time said that the governor, Bill Clinton, who was out of state campaigning for president, “issued a statement saying Clinton agreed with Tucker’s decision.  Yet the Huffington Post recently published a story headlined “How Anti-Clinton Zealots Pushed Huckabee To Let A Rapist Free.”  

And then there is the Parole Board.  Such boards make important, life-or-death decisions.  Some of those decisions are wrong.  Granting parole to Dumond was one of them.  Does anyone even remotely suspect that there might be a bit of CYA involved in their current finger-pointing at Huckabee?  There’s no doubt the Board was all over the place on the Dumond case.  In 1990, the Parole Board voted overwhelmingly to recommend that Clinton commute Dumond’s sentence to time served.  At another hearing a few months later, after hearing from the victims – which it hadn’t done before the first vote – Board members then split on whether Dumond should be released immediately or in a couple of years.  (Clinton declined their recommendations because the Dumond case was still on appeal at the time.)  Then, in 1994, after Tucker commuted Dumond’s sentence, the Board voted 3-2 to keep Dumond in prison.  Some individual Board members have been on both sides of the issue.

None of that exonerates Huckabee.  But it should suggest to fair-minded observers that there is more to this case than some commentators suggest.


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