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Peter Citron Granted Parole; Hadn't Completed Therapy- Jan. 28, 1993 - Omaha World-Herald

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Peter Citron Granted Parole; Hadn't Completed Therapy; [Sunrise Edition]

Leslie Boellstorff. Omaha World - Herald. Omaha, Neb.: Jan 28, 1993. pg. 13.sf

(Copyright 1993 Omaha World-Herald Company)

A three-member majority of the Nebraska Board of Parole voted to release Peter Citron from prison Wednesday.

Two board members who opposed Citron's release questioned whether he had accepted responsibility for his crimes and whether he had learned to control his sexual desires for young boys. Citron has not successfully completed mental health treatment for sex offenders.

The other board members said Citron posed no danger to society. He needs mental health treatment that is not available in prison, they said.

Appearing frail, Citron walked out of the Lincoln Correctional Center as a free man, though subject to parole conditions. The former entertainment reporter for The World-Herald and WOWT-Channel 6 had served more than 2 1/2 years of a three- to eight-year prison sentence for sexual assault of children. He had been eligible for parole since December.

Being paroled a month after being eligible is not unusual, a corrections official said.

Prison was one of the most frightening things he'd ever experienced, Citron told the Parole Board. But he told reporters that he fears community reaction to his release even more.

"It scares the heck out of me," he said.

Parole Board Chairman Ethel Landrum and board member Lee Oberg voted against Citron's parole.

Ms. Landrum mentioned an unfavorable psychological evaluation completed earlier this month and expressed concern that Citron had been removed for lack of participation from two sex-offender treatment programs offered him during his incarceration.

She also said she was concerned that Citron might lack insight into what might make him relapse.

"The possibility of recurrence concerns me, your lack of insight into relapse dynamics," she said.

Early Support The majority of the Parole Board made it plain early in the hearing that Citron would be released.

"I don't have any questions (for Citron), but I do have a statement to make," board member Donald McCall said at his first opportunity to speak. "I support Mr. Citron for parole today."

Board members Marlene Cupp and Michael McLaughlin also voted for parole.

McCall said he based his decision on three factors: Citron is not a threat to the public; he could be more successfully treated through one-on-one counseling outside prison; and his poor physical health makes parole a "humanitarian issue."

Citron suffered a heart attack while at the Lincoln Regional Center. He underwent two angioplasty procedures to clear his arteries and a triple bypass operation. He also suffers from a blood ailment.

The program approved by the board would allow Citron to return to his Omaha home on Happy Hollow Boulevard. He would have therapy sessions with Dr. Beverley Mead, a psychiatrist affiliated with Creighton University, at least once a week.

For the first 30 days of his parole, he would be required to remain at home unless he found employment. That provision probably would be extended if he didn't find work within 30 days. Citron said he had no job lined up but hoped to write a book and do part-time public relations and speechwriting.

No Memory Citron, 53, was convicted in May 1990 of fondling an 11-year-old boy in 1988 and a 13-year-old boy in 1989. Although his name had been among those circulated in rumors of child sexual abuse connected with an investigation into the failure of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union, authorities said the case against Citron was not connected with the Franklin allegations.

After his arrest, Citron was suspended by The World-Herald. He resigned eight days later.

During Wednesday's hearing he said he does not remember assaulting either boy.

Ms. Landrum questioned his failure to acknowledge that the assaults occurred.

"I'm capable of it," Citron responded. "It's always there. I can't say I didn't do it."

Citron spent part of his sentence at the regional center to receive mental health treatment as a mentally disordered sex offender.

He was removed from that program and returned to prison last summer after officials said he wasn't benefiting from treatment. He was removed from a sex offender treatment program at the Lincoln Correctional Center for similar reasons.

Group Therapy Citron told the board he was uncomfortable with the group therapy approach used in the two programs.

"It's a difficult program in a prison situation," he said. "Anything you say will be on the yard in five minutes."

Those who testified in favor of Citron's parole included his two lawyers, two rabbis and Lincoln TV personality Leta Powell Drake.

No one appeared or wrote letters to oppose Citron's parole.

Rabbi Aryeh Azriel of Temple Israel in Omaha said the Jewish community would welcome Citron's return.

"I think Peter is a fragile man, a broken man," Azriel said. "It's about time to invite him back to join our community. He is a withered tree that's spent too much time here. He needs to be planted in new ground to blossom and flourish."

Phil Johnson/World-Herald/1sf

Credit: World-Herald Bureau

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