Man Accidentally Freed Won't Return to Prison

Ly, who moved to the United States from Cambodia in 1982 after his family was killed by the Khmer Rouge, is currently serving a six-month sentence for failing to register as a sex offender. He is eligible for parole next month, according to the Middlesex County prosecutor's office, but federal immigration authorities are likely to detain him after his release from state custody.

An immigration court ruled in 2004 that Ly should be allowed to stay in the United States because of the possibility that he would be tortured if he returned to Cambodia. It was not immediately clear if immigration officials would try to deport Ly, though his immigration lawyer said he hoped they would not.

"He's straightened his life out," said Dan Cashman. "He's a productive member of the community. His family is completely Americanized. His kids grew up here and they need a father."

According to court records, in 1990 Ly professed his love for a co-worker and asked her to leave her husband. When she refused, he raped her, according to papers filed by prosecutors. His lawyer at the time, David LiBassi, said Ly was in a relationship with the victim and did not rape her.

Since his rape conviction, Ly was arrested twice, in 1999 and 2001, for domestic assault and assault and battery, though one of those charges was dismissed. Despite those arrests, prosecutors apparently did not realize that Ly had never served his prison sentence for rape. Efforts to reach Ly's family and the victim in his rape case Thursday were unsuccessful.

Daniel Flaherty, Ly's appellate lawyer, said that while he sympathized with Ly's victim and her family, "I think ultimately this was the just result. I think everybody has an interest in the system working right."

"Justice has a funny way of surviving," LiBassi said. "I think that's what happened in this case."

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