The recent scandals at Penn State University and Miramonte Elementary School have prompted public discussion and debate about child abuse, federal sex offender laws and the public records available concerning each.
According to the Texas DPS sex offender registry, there are 94 registered sex offenders in San Marcos and 209 in Hays County. The county includes the cities of Buda, Kyle, Dripping Springs and Wimberley. According to the University Police Department sex offenders’ database, there are 14 registered on-campus sex offenders.
There are 89-registered sex offenders in Kyle, 33 in Buda, 11 in Wimberley, and eight in Dripping Springs.
Texas State requires faculty, staff and student sex offenders to register through the. This information is made public on the online UPD sex offenders’ database.
On-campus sex offenders must register with UPD three days after signing up for courses during the academic year, and have one week after the summer and winter break to do so.
The Texas State undergraduate admissions office does not perform a background check on students and does not base enrollment on criminal offenses.
Paul Vega, international studies graduate, said he found out a mutual friend and fellow member of an unnamed on-campus organization was a registered sex offender through an online database.
“It’s not always the old creepy dude,” Vega said. “It could be a girl too. People don’t think about that. It’s not that black and white.”
Vega said if people find out someone they know is a registered sex offender they should be mature about it. He said people cannot always be judged by their past decisions.
The Institution of Higher Education Sex Offender Notification Forms, which list of basic information about a registered on-campus sex offender for university purposes, shows most offenses involve an underage victim who is reported to be a ‘friend’ or ‘relative.’
Criminal offenses typically classified as sex offenses include statutory and spousal rape, sexual abuse, child molestation, indecent exposure and prostitution. Also included are lewd conduct, possession of child pornography, internet sex crimes and the failure to register as a sex offender when it is required by law.
Lifetime registration with local law enforcement is required for possession of child pornography, prohibited sexual conduct (incest), and sexual assault.
Marla Johnson, Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center executive director, said the majority of sexual abuse cases involve someone the victim knows.
However, Johnson said sex offender registries may help ease people’s minds.
“It can be helpful to know whether or not someone is on their street, in their apartment or in their dorm,” she said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety provides a free online sex offender registry. Users may search by name, address, county, zip code, school and for registered sex offenders nationally.
All information on the state’s DPS online sex offender registry is based on registration information submitted by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Youth Commission and various other agencies.
Sex offender registration laws in Texas went into effect in 1991.
Publicly registered sex offender information includes birth date, sex, race and physical address. However, the Texas Legislature mandated in 1999 that the offender’s home telephone number, social security number and drivers license number not be made public.
Convicted sex offenders are required to register with local law enforcement in the jurisdiction where they live for the duration of their probationary period.
Adult sex offenders in Texas are required to register from 10 years to life after being discharged from state supervision.
A disclaimer on the online registry states that not all sex offenders are registered through the public access DPS database under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 62. 301.