A pedophile who repeatedly raped a 12 year-old boy is one step closer to being freed from prison over fears he will catch coronavirus.

Glenn Christie, 54, has been granted a motion to argue that he should be released after being re-incarcerated last fall for violating his parole, because underlying health conditions including possible thyroid cancer make him vulnerable to serious Covid-19 side effects.

The ruling, released Wednesday, came after Christie’s lawyers told a court in Salem, Massachusetts, that he should not be left in prison for between one and two years for repeated violations of the 10 year parole he was given on being freed from jail.

Christie also suffers from kidney disease and a condition called spinal stenosis which has left him in a wheelchair. After Wednesday’s ruling, Christie’s lawyer David Rangaviz tweeted: ‘I’m cautiously optimistic that the court will see him as a perfect example of the sort of vulnerable person in need of release.’

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Explaining their decision to let Christie’s appeal move to the next stage of the judicial process, Chief Justice Ralph Gants said: ‘Incarcerated individuals often bunk in the same cell or unit and cannot realistically maintain adequate social distancing.’

The ruling, seen by the Salem News, continued: ‘The health risks to a person in custody caused by the pandemic constitute changed circumstances…

‘We also conclude that, in conducting that (new) review, a judge must give careful consideration not only to the risks posed by releasing the defendant – flight, danger to others or to the community, and likelihood of further criminal acts – but also, during this pandemic, to the risk that the defendant might die or become seriously ill if kept in custody.’

Prosecutors are opposing Christie’s release from prison, with a subsequent hearing set to take place by the end of the week. Civil liberties groups across the US have called for the release of non-violent prisoners during the worsening outbreak and argue that keeping them locked up poses a greater risk to public health and safety.

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