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Joseph Lavigne, convicted 20 years ago, released from prison

Joseph Lavigne, convicted 20 years ago of sexually assaulting his daughter, celebrates Wednesday after being released from Huttonsville Correctional Center. (Joseph Lavigne Family)

Joseph Lavigne is a free man.

Family members provided video to Eyewitness News of Lavigne’s release Wednesday from Huttonsville Correctional Center. He was convicted more than 20 years ago of sexually assaulting his 5-year-old daughter.

A panel of the state parole board has voted to accept the third and latest "home plan" for Lavigne, according to information from the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. The acceptance cleared the way for his release from prison.

The Office of Parole Services, which will supervise Lavigne, had earlier recommended that this plan be accepted, spokesman Lawrence Messina said.

In September, all who addressed the panel supported Lavigne's release: his lawyer, his daughter, the relative who was granted custody of his children, and two representatives of the West Virginia University College of Law Innocence Project clinic, Messina previously said.

"He will have to abide by the rules and regulations of supervision by Parole Services. He will also have additional conditions to meet as a convicted sex offender. Among those conditions: no contact with anyone under the age of 18 and he must register as sex offender," Messina said in an e-mail late Tuesday.

Lavigne was originally sentenced to up to 50 years in prison after a jury in Harrison County found him guilty. He was accused of sexually assaulting his then-5-year-old daughter in February 1996. The child was sexually assaulted in a church parking lot near the family's Putnam County home earlier that year.

His daughter has since publicly stated that she doesn't believe her father was her rapist.

Lavigne was released in 2011 after a Putnam County judge overturned his case. A year and a half later, the state Supreme Court overturned that decision, reinstating the sentence and sending Lavigne back to prison.

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