Man convicted in high-profile Putnam sexual assault could be released from prison

A state official says Joseph Lavigne could be released from prison if a home plan is approved. Lavigne was convicted in a high-profile sexual assault in Putnam County 20 years ago. (WCHS/WVAH)

Joseph Lavigne, who has maintained his innocence since he was convicted more than 20 years ago in Putnam County of sexually assaulting his 5-year-old daughter, could be released from prison next month if a “home plan” is approved that explains where he would work and live.

The state Parole Board panel has deferred a final decision on Lavigne's request for parole pending the completion of the home plan, said Larry Messina, director of communications for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

Messina said in an email Monday that the home plan will be reviewed by Parole Services, which is part of the Division of Corrections, and supervises parolees. Parole Services will then recommend whether the board should accept the plan.

The Parole Board expects a quick turnaround on the submission of a final home plan, and estimates Lavigne could be released by Oct. 25 if it is approved.

If the plan is approved, Lavigne would be placed under the terms of supervision for sex offenders. Those terms include being barred from being around minors.

On Monday, 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 said.

Lavigne was originally sentenced to up to 50 years in prison. He was released in 2011 after a Putnam County judge overturned his case. But then 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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