Sex crime act to take effect in fall

Convicted sex offenders will be required to notify state and local authorities if they are enrolled or working at universities when a sex crime prevention act goes into force this October.

The federal Campus Sex Crimes Prevention act, which was passed in 2000, will also require universities to provide the campus community with access to a sex offender registry where information concerning local sex offenders can be obtained.

The act serves as a supplement to Megan’s Law, which requires sex offenders to make their residence in communities known to local and state authorities.

Although universities have until October 1, 2003, to comply with the law, GW has already provided a link on the University Police Web site to the Metropolitan Police Department’s Online Sex Offender Registry. The Web site is http://mpdc.dc.gov/serv/sor/sexoffender.shtm

The registry provides detailed information about sex offenders, including their picture, criminal record and addresses of where they work and live.

Det. Ronald Reid of MPD’s Sex Offender Registry Unit said if a sex offender is enrolled or working at a university, the address of the university will be listed in their profile.

Assistant Director for Media Relations Bob Ludwig said GW is not aware of any sex offenders who are on the payroll or enrolled at GW.

A search of the online registry did not produce any sex offenders affiliated with GW but showed that a man living and working in the Foggy Bottom area was convicted with first-degree sexual abuse.

Linda Schutjer, associate general counsel for the University, said GW tries to respect people’s privacy rights but could notify the GW community if a student or an employee is a sex offender.

Schutjer said several people who have committed sexual offenses have applied for jobs at the University but, because of the nature of their criminal records, were turned down.

Reid said no sex offenders living in the District are affiliated with GW but noted that a sex offender is affiliated with Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf in Northeast Washington. Jennifer Turner, manager of Gallaudet’s Department of Public Safety, said she wasn’t aware that a convicted sex offender is affiliated with the university but added that it is possible for a sex offender to be on campus without her knowing.

Reid said MPD would notify University safety officials if a sex offender were part of the campus community.

“But we don’t control what a university does with the information,” Reid said, noting that a university uses its discretion when distributing information about a convicted sex offender.

Sex offenders have been found guilty of one or more sexual offenses, which include forcible rape, incest, prostitution and kidnapping, according to MPD’s Sex Offender Registry Database.

Schutjer also said several students in the past who were convicted of sex offenses have attended GW in the past. She cited a medical student who was moved to a different program after it was discovered he had committed several sexual offenses. The student was moved because a convicted sex offender would not be able to get a medical license, Schutjer said.

Schutjer would not disclose the details of the case but said the University and the student were able to reach an “agreement.”

UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said the new law does not require University safety officials to report sexual offenses to police if the victim chooses not to report it.

“MPD is notified if the victim of a sex offense wants to notify MPD to press charges,” Stafford said. “The Sexual Assault Crisis Consultation team member gives the victim of a sex offense all of their options, which includes the option to press criminal charges.”

GW students said the new law would promote campus safety.

“Knowing if there’s a sex offender on campus will make students more aware,” sophomore Kim Nichols said. “It’s just something we all have to be informed about.”

Other students said they’d be more worried if a sex offender was on campus.

“If I knew that there was a sex offender on campus, it’d make me very nervous,” freshman Julianne Raines said. “It’s something I wouldn’t want to know about.”

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