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What you need to know for 11/19/2017

State: Man in Saratoga kidnap attempt to remain held

State: Man in Saratoga kidnap attempt to remain held

Order is 1st step in process to keep sex offenders in civil confinement
State: Man in Saratoga kidnap attempt to remain held
John Regan.
Photographer: Provided

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The notorious sex offender who tried to kidnap a teenager 12 years ago in Saratoga Springs will remain in custody for now, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The department made the announcement Thursday hours after the state Attorney General's Office asked a judge to keep John Regan held under the decade-old state civil confinement statute. That statute allows the state to keep the worst sex offenders in custody until he or she is deemed safe to be released.

The AG's filing led to a state Supreme Court justice's ruling by the end of the day to prevent Regan's release, which had been scheduled for Friday.

"DOCCS has received a New York State Supreme Court order to keep inmate Regan in custody. All questions regarding this matter should be directed to the State Attorney General," the corrections statement reads.

Regan, 60, formerly of Waterbury, Conn., was imprisoned for trying to kidnap standout Saratoga Springs High School cross-country runner Lindsey Ferguson on Oct. 31, 2005. He also has an earlier kidnapping conviction from Connecticut in his past.

Assistant Attorney General Joseph Muia filed the paperwork just after 10 a.m. Thursday in Clinton County, records there show. Regan has been serving his sentence there for attempted kidnapping.

The filing sought Regan's initial confinement under the state mental health law and led to the order cited by state corrections.

Talk of where Regan might end up has intensified in recent weeks as his release date neared.

John MacFadden, who was the Saratoga Springs district superintendent at the time of the attempted abduction, welcomed the news Thursday evening.

MacFadden, who still lives in the city, said the possibility of Regan returning to Saratoga County has been very much on the minds of the people in the community.

"I think it is a very positive first step in a transparent way for the local Capital Region and maybe beyond the Capital Region," MacFadden said.

Thursday's attorney general filing is the first step in the possibly long civil confinement process. But Regan will remain in custody as that process goes forward.

Regan pleaded guilty to attempted kidnapping in the Saratoga Springs case, a conviction eligible for possible confinement when deemed a sexually motivated offense.

Regan waited in a van the evening of the offense and grabbed Ferguson as she went to her car after cross-country practice. She broke free of his grasp and cross-country coach Art Kranick followed Regan as he drove away. Kranick's wife and fellow coach, Linda Kranick, called police and they arrested Regan within a few blocks.

A search of Regan's van revealed a tarp, rope, photography equipment and tools, including a shovel.

The case drew much attention because of its sensational nature and because the victim was a national champion runner.

Regan attacked Ferguson 12 years after he attacked and raped Connecticut resident Donna Palomba inside her home. Regan wasn't identified and arrested until 2004. He was free on $350,000 bail when he attacked Ferguson.

Palomba has since gone on to be a victim's advocate and founded JaneDoNoMore.org. Regan had been expected to serve as much as three extra years in Connecticut for Palomba's attack, but a long-since changed law eliminated that time.

Palomba couldn't be reached for comment Thursday evening, but she has said previously that someone like Regan should not be out in society.

Regan is entitled to a probable cause hearing to determine if enough evidence exists to proceed to trial or if he should be released. 

The status of that hearing was unclear Thursday. He is represented by the state Mental Hygiene Legal Service. The service's director was unavailable for comment.

If held, a trial would determine if Regan has the required mental abnormality for confinement and what to do with him. The options are confinement or intense supervision. Cases of those confined are then reviewed on a regular basis.

The entire process in the case of Schenectady County sex offender Alan Horowitz, believed to have been longer than usual, took four years and ended with his confinement order in July 2016. Horowitz, now 70, remains confined at the Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy, state records indicate. Many of the confined sex offenders are housed at Marcy.

Regan is expected to remain at the Clinton County Correctional Facility, at least for now, state corrections officials said. Whether he is transferred elsewhere in custody would be decided later.

Gary Greenberg is an advocate for child sexual abuse victim rights through ProtectNYKids.org and has sought to prevent the release of offenders like Regan.

"That's great," Greenberg said after learning Regan will remain held. "He's a very dangerous felon.

"That's why you have civil confinement in the state is for cases like John Regan, to make sure that he never gets out into society and harms another person."

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