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Wrongly released: Convicted sexual batterer back behind bars in Rhea County

From NewsChannel 9: A man convicted of sexual battery in Rhea County and sentenced to 2 years was released after serving only 8 months. But he’s now back behind bars because his release was a mistake. 


This situation was brought to light only after a mother got a notification from the sex offenders registry that her daughter’s attacker had been released. 


Robert Thurman began his sentence in April of 2022. But Rhea County Assistant District Attorney David McGovern says Thurman was released on December 21st, just 8 months into a 2-year sentence.


Rhea County Sheriff Mike Neal says the Tennessee Department of Corrections told him Thurman should be released, even though the Sheriff’s Office told them otherwise repeatedly. Sheriff Neal said, “They were trying to tell us that we need to release him and we were sending documentation back showing and saying it’s not time to release him.”


Thurman turned himself back into the Rhea County Jail to serve out the rest of his time when he was contacted about the mistake. 


The Tennessee Department of Corrections has not released a statement on the matter.