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Offender in boys' rapes freed under Ryce Act

The moment Judge Robert Bonanno announced his decision to release convicted sex offender Kevin Kinder, Judy Cornett rose to her feet.

Standing among the courtroom spectators, the red-faced mother demanded to know: Where is Kinder going to live?

She wanted an address for the man who raped four young boys, including her son, in the early 1990s.

"It's for the safety of Kinder and my son," she said, shaking.

When Kinder's assistant public defender did not answer, Cornett turned her attention to the judge, shouting, "Let Kevin Kinder go loose in your neighborhood."

Bonanno's decision Wednesday makes Kinder the first sex offender in the Tampa Bay area to be released after commitment to a treatment center under Florida's Jimmy Ryce Act.

Assistant State Attorney Michael Sinacore conceded the state could find no evidence requiring Kinder's confinement any longer.

"Nobody says he is cured," Sinacore said. "They say he no longer has to be confined to get his treatment, and he is a low enough risk that he can get it on an out-patient basis."

The Jimmy Ryce Act, named for a 9-year-old Dade County boy kidnapped, raped, murdered and dismembered in 1995, was passed to keep the most dangerous rapists and molesters locked up for treatment after serving their prison sentences.

The law requires a civil jury to decide whether a sex offender is fit to re-enter society after his prison sentence expires, or should be committed for treatment as a sexually violent predator.

Kinder pleaded guilty in 1992 to performing lewd acts on four boys ages 11 to 14. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison. But because of prison crowding, he was set for release after six years.

Instead, prosecutors committed him under the Jimmy Ryce Act.

At his trial, Kinder testified in a calm voice about how he raped young boys after luring them into woods in Town 'N Country. He was asked why he had sex with young boys.

"Because I was sick and I was perverted and I was twisted," Kinder said.

He talked of being molested himself from age 8 and attending "sex parties" at age 12.

After the civil proceeding last year, a jury decided Kinder should remain locked up for treatment, and he was sent to the Florida Civil Commitment Center in Arcadia.

There, he has undergone treatment that includes therapy, victim empathy, anger management, stress therapy and substance abuse awareness. He is being treated for being a pedophile and having an antisocial personality.

His attorney and experts say his improvement means he can now live on his own.

At least one of the doctors who previously testified against Kinder's release, neuropsychologist Dr. Joseph J. Sesta, changed his opinion.

"I can opine with a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that Mr. Kinder has undergone significant therapeutic improvement in his clinical condition," Sesta wrote in a letter in Kinder's court file.