A judge will decide within the next week whether jailed sex offender and Penn student Kurt Mitman will be allowed to return to campus, though any release from prison will likely be accompanied by additional security.
Last week, University officials discovered that Mitman, a first-year Economics graduate student who is serving a jail sentence on child-molestation charges, was commuting to class from a Bucks County prison as part of an academic-release program.
At a hearing last Wednesday, County Judge Theodore Fritsch suspended Mitman's academic release and gave the county Men's Community Corrections Center until Jan. 31 to draft a new release proposal that would provide for more monitoring provisions if Mitman were allowed to return to classes, said Richard Fink, Mitman's attorney.
According to School of Arts and Sciences Graduate Admissions Coordinator Patricia Rea, Penn officials met yesterday to discuss Mitman's status with the University, though spokeswoman Lori Doyle said Tuesday that the University will abide by the court's decision.
"That's at the judge's discretion at present," Doyle said.
Philadelphia criminal attorney Patrick Artur said Bucks County District Attorney Diane Gibbons has always opposed academic-release privileges for sex offenders and will likely ask Fritsch either to limit Mitman's privileges to the Bucks County area or to keep him in prison for the remainder of his sentence.
Gibbons could not be reached despite repeated attempts for comment.
Artur added that one of the issues prosecutors are likely to scrutinize is the fact that Mitman attends school in Philadelphia.
In a city so large, he said, there is a risk of losing control over Mitman's activities.
Another consideration is that Philadelphia is outside of the Bucks County court's jurisdiction, Artur said.
Fink said he believes Fritsch may allow Mitman to return to campus under increased security and with possible conditions, including monitored phone conversations and prohibition from contact with minors.
But even if Mitman is allowed to return to Penn, he may become an outsider to the University community.
"We as a nation have gone bananas with sex crimes," Artur said, adding that Mitman is more likely to face threats and hostility since his sex-offender status has become common knowledge.
But for Mitman, publicity from the incident has already led to rejection from his immediate community.
The incident "has already immersed him in enough publicity that he's getting harassed at the prison," Fink said.
He added that Mitman may be able to resume a normal life on campus when the Penn community stops seeing his presence as a risk.
Students "will probably start ignoring him pretty quickly because he isn't a danger," Fink said.
Mitman pled guilty in March 2005 to involuntary deviate sexual-intercourse charges with a 14-year-old boy and was sentenced to two-and-a-half to five years in prison.
He began attending Penn in September 2006 after enrolling in the academic-release program.Comments powered by Disqus
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