LOS ANGELES - In 1981, it was one of the biggest stories in Los Angeles. A story making headlines not only locally, but all across the country. The parolee, known as the "Subterranean Rapist" terrorized Los Angeles, raping up to 50 women.
The convicted rapist, born James Edward Hughes, had been denied parole twice but has another hearing coming up in April and prosecutors won't be allowed to attend due to Los Angles County DA George Gascón's policy change.
FOX 11 spoke with one of the victims, who was 19 when Hughes stabbed and sexually assaulted her inside a garage. The victim -- who we'll call "Jane" to protect her identity -- is outraged and feels abandoned by the DA's office.
Her message to Gascón?
"You represent the people, and you will not be there for me," Jane said.
Hughes, a former x-ray technician who was out on parole for a prior rape conviction, went on to sexually assault up to 50 more women in LA, including Jane.
"Just really, really hard to talk about, even to this day, 40 years later," Jane told FOX 11.
**WARNING: THE DETAILS "JANE" SHARES WITH FOX 11 MAY BE TRIGGERING TO SOME AND ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNGER VIEWERS**
She was coming home from the grocery store when the traumatic incident took place.
"I pulled back into my subterranean garage and he was just there," Jane recalled. "He popped up from behind a car. He was holding a very large kitchen knife like something you see in a movie."
"He repeatedly told me he was going to kill me," she added. "I was stabbed during the attack as well... it was beyond terrifying."
Hughes was later arrested, charged and sentenced to 94 years in prison.
Fast-forward to 2021, the Subterranean Rapist has been in prison for about 40 years. While no known photos of him exist, his Megan's Law profile shows the litany of rape charges he was convicted of.
Hughes has already been denied for parole twice but in April, the 70-year-old is up for parole once again. But this time, a prosecutor won't be allowed to attend the hearing the advocate his ongoing prison sentence -- as a direct result of reforms from Gascón.
This means Jane will be on her own to oppose her rapist's release.
"To be completely abandoned... he hasn't even served half of his sentence, which for the life of me I can't even understand," the victim said. "To be abandoned at this juncture and thrown into a completely vulnerable situation... this has been a huge setback for me."
Jane's attorney, Michael Latin, says Gascón is leaving his client in a very vulnerable spot.
"When a rapist rapes a victim, the way he does it is he silences the victim so that nobody hears her screams. And here we are, 40 years later, and she’s getting silenced again, but by the DA, the person whose job it is to stand by her and to protect her," Latin said.
Alex Bastian, Gascón's special advisor, released the following statement, in part:
"The role of a prosecutor, and their access to information ends at sentencing. The Parole Board, however, has all the pertinent facts and evaluations at their disposal. The Parole Board’s sole purpose is to objectively determine whether someone is suitable for release. Both times before, this particular individual has been denied parole. Once again, there is no indication that this person will be released, as the parole board denies release in over 85% of cases."
"Do you feel this is somebody who can be rehabilitated?" FOX 11's Bill Melugin asks Jane.
"Absolutely not," she replied. "I don’t care if he’s 40 years older, he’s not fit to be released."
Now married and with a family of her own, Jane has moved on with her life since the horrific attack. However, she says Gascón's uniform approach to ban prosecutors from attending parole hearings makes no sense. Especially in such a heinous case.
"The experience in and of itself is retraumatizing, to also have to worry about this is unimaginable," Jane said.