Sex offenders database lists students’ names

Michael Lewis

Safety recommendations when on the street or crossing campus

• Be aware of who and what is around you.

• Hold your head up and look at the

people you encounter.

• Follow your instincts. If you think

you’re in danger, try to get out of the situation.

• If you are approached while walking, cross the street or change directions.

• If you are being followed, do not go home. Get to a place where there are other people as soon as possible.

• If you decide to run, run as fast as you can and scream to get attention or help.

• If possible, walk with someone else.

• Always walk in well-lit areas.

• Avoid alleys and deserted parking lots.

Tracking sex offenders who attend Kent State or one of its seven regional campuses is just a mouse click away since the release of a registered sex offenders database.

The Kent State Department of Public Safety compiled a database listing the names of sex offenders and the Kent State campus each offender attends. Currently, 11 names of students attending six different campuses appear on the Web site, which can be found at

“We typed in, individually, the names of each sex offender from eight counties and cross-referenced those names with each student and faculty,” Student Auxiliary Officer Sara Hennon said. “Thankfully, there isn’t very many.”

According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Education in 2005, the number of forcible-sex offenses that occurred at colleges and universities across the nation jumped 9.6 percent, an increase from 2,347 incidents to 2,573.

At Kent State, figures released in 2005 document five sexually offensive incidents having occurred since 2002.

Kent State Police Lt. Carl Sweigert said the department plans to update the database at the beginning of each semester, though he admitted the process is time consuming.

“Some students want to know, and some could care less,” Sweigert said. “Although we have some students listed, we may have some missing. If commuters from another county attend Kent State, it’s possible they are a sexual offender, but we might not have listed their name.”

Megan’s Law in Ohio defines a sex offender as a person convicted of a sexually oriented offense, in whose case the sentencing judge ordered that a community notification for that individual is necessary. As of October 2004, Ohio has 11,984 registered sex offenders, according to the KLAAS Kids Foundation.

In 1994, 7-year-old Megan Kanka was found brutally raped and murdered, prompting public outcry demanding community notification and registration laws for all sex offenders.

The law requires registration within five days of entering any county and five days of changing address. Sex offenders are required to update their information annually for 10 years. A sexual predator, or a person convicted of a sexually violent offense, is required to update personal information every 90 days for life.

Recently, the House of Representatives passed a bill introduced by U.S. Representative Paul E. Gillmor, R-Ohio, to create a national sex offender database. A task force has been assigned to create guidelines for a risk-based sex offenders classification system.

Jenalee Baxendale, freshman fashion merchandising major, said she feels safer knowing a database exists to keep track of sex offenders.

“It is something people might not want to believe, but it’s there,” Baxendale said. “It helps students keep aware of their surroundings.”

Physiology graduate student Molly Maloney said knowing who is a sexual offender is important.

“Unfortunately, it’s a reality we live in,” Maloney said. “I wouldn’t be focused so much on who did it as I would be concerned if it happened to a friend of mine.”

Contact safety reporter Michael Lewis at [email protected].