The woman who miscarried twins after she was raped by Larry Takahashi says the man known as the “balaclava rapist” is manipulative, deceptive and deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail.
Erica Hammermeister is angry at the parole board’s decision to temporarily release Takahashi for 60 days, allowing him to live in a Victoria halfway house until Dec. 24.
“They [police] believe if he wouldn’t have been caught when he attacked me he could have upgraded to murder,” Hammermeister said in a phone interview Wednesday. “He’s a very manipulative, deceptive person.”
Hammermeister was Takahashi’s last victim before he was caught, and the Crown’s star witness at his trial.
Takahashi, 61, was living a double life as a model citizen with a wife and child during the day, and a rapist by night. He started his crimes by peeping into women’s windows and masturbating, which quickly escalated to breaking into women’s homes and raping them while wearing a balaclava.
Hammermeister was 23 and pregnant with twins when she was attacked in the freight elevator of her Edmonton apartment as she was returning home about 1 a.m. on March 6, 1983.
Takahashi dragged her to a storage room and raped her while hitting her face and head.
A witness called police, and when officers arrived and knocked on the door, Takahashi, a black belt in karate, opened the door, knocked down the officers and fled.
Ten days later, a tactical team arrested Takahashi as he left his karate studio.
Takahashi admitted to attacking 30 women but police believe he could be responsible for more than 100 attacks.
In 1984, Takahashi was convicted on 14 counts of rape, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault and disguise with intent between 1979 and 1983, and sentenced to three concurrent life terms, plus 73 years.
But “that’s a false sense of security they’re giving to the public,” Hammermeister said, since Takahashi was eligible for full parole in 1991 and granted escorted day passes in 1997.
In August 2005, Takahashi had his day parole revoked after he met several times with a convicted sex offender in Vancouver.
Hundreds of people voiced concern after Victoria police issued a warning last week, alerting the public that Takahashi would be staying at a Victoria halfway house.
When the 60 days are up, Takahashi will return to William Head Institution, a minimum security facility in Metchosin, and corrections officers will assess whether he’s a candidate for day parole.
Hammermeister said she doesn’t believe someone as violent as Takahashi could change, even with rehabilitation programs and drug and alcohol treatment.
“Because certain characteristics and traits will still be there, the Jekyll and Hyde stuff during the attacks,” she said.
While Hammermeister is now a successful working professional with two sons and a 21Ú2 -year-old grandchild, the trauma of the attack will never leave her.
“No, you can never ever put it behind you,” she said. “You lose some of that power, you lose some of that self-esteem, you lose some of that trust.”
Hammermeister tries to keep a low profile to prevent Takahashi from ever finding her and said she would be terrified if he were released in Edmonton.
Mary Campbell, who retired earlier this year as director general of the corrections and criminal justice directorate, said the fact that Takahashi is being released on a temporary escorted absence after 30 years in prison says the corrections system is taking a very cautious and measured approach with his release.
“The success rate of escorted passes and unescorted temporary absences is 99 per cent,” she said. “Clearly, the system has made the decision about him that his risk is not what it was 25 or 30 years ago.”
Campbell disagrees with Victoria police putting out the public warning.
“It is enormously confusing to the public. One arm of the system is saying it’s safe for this man to be in the community, and the other arm is saying, ‘Oh my gosh, be afraid,’ ” she said.
“It raises a general level of fear without any concrete avenue for doing anything about it.”
Hammermeister said Takahashi’s victims have to suffer life-long trauma for what he did to them so he should face the same life-long consequences behind bars.
“Put him back in jail, because it guarantees the safety of women,” Hammermeister said.