Judge suspends molester’s college career

(MCT) – A convicted child molester attending the University of Pennsylvania while still serving time in a Bucks County prison had his academic-release program terminated yesterday, even though Penn and corrections officials had agreed to closer monitoring of his activities on campus.

Bucks County Court Judge C. Theodore Fritsch, who ordered more stringent monitoring of Kurt E. Mitman two weeks ago, said the “character and scope of the academic release remains inappropriate” for him.

The judge did not comment specifically on the monitoring proposal, which included an electronic monitoring device in Mitman’s campus office and another to be worn by him. Instead he criticized the amount of time Mitman’s academic program would require him to be out of prison – up to 12 hours a day, Mondays through Thursdays.

“The schedule is the same; the activities are the same,” Fritsch said. He also noted that university police “did not agree to take a role.”

In March 2005, Mitman, 25, pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old boy. Jennifer Schorn, chief of special investigations for the Bucks district attorney, noted that the crime is a class-one felony – the most serious short of homicide – and will require Mitman to register his whereabouts with authorities the rest of his life.

Mitman’s attorney, Richard Fine, argued that Mitman’s crime was one with a low risk of recidivism and that the Bucks County Department of Corrections had authority on its own to implement the educational program.

Schorn countered that the predatory nature of Mitman’s offense made him especially dangerous, that he had not served the minimum of the 2 to 5-year term, that he had been virtually unsupervised while away from prison, and that prison officials had not notified the victim’s mother of the release, as required.

Corrections officials admitted an oversight in not honoring the mother’s written request for notification under Megan’s Law.

The victim’s mother appeared visibly relieved after Fritsch’s ruling and at one point close to tears in discussing it.

“I couldn’t see how anyone would let this continue,” she said of the release program. “It’s so inappropriate – and the lack of supervision.

“Every time you see him in court,” she continued, “he’s in handcuffs. How do you reconcile that with his being at the university?”

In making his case to the judge, Fine called Mitman “a poster boy for rehabilitation. Education and rehabilitation – there’s not anything better that a prison can do.”

Schorn rebutted that “rehabilitation is not the only goal.” Authorities must consider “the impact on the victim and the impact on the community.”

Both Schorn and the victim’s mother had expressed surprise that Penn would be willing to allow Mitman to continue after not only learning of his crime but also finding out about it five months after he began classes.

Penn spokeswoman Lori Doyle said, that because the university at the time Mitman applied in 2005 did not ask applicants about their criminal record, Penn did not believe Mitman was being deceptive, as Schorn contended.

Doyle also said Penn neither opposed nor advocated renewal of Mitman’s academic release: “The court asked us under what terms and conditions Penn would take him back, and we provided a plan outlining what those conditions would be.”

Doyle said Mitman could reapply for the program if he is released on parole, for which he will be eligible in September.