Oct 23, 2014 02:04 PM EDT
Jesse Matthew's Past Sex Crime Accusations May Have Never Appeared on UVa's Radar
Jesse Leroy Matthew may have been able to avoid being punished for past sexual assaults thanks to a loophole in the transfer process.
According to a report from the Huffington Post, transfer college students do not have to disclose sex crimes on their transcripts, nor do they need to come up at all. A school may simply say the student underwent disciplinary action without disclosing what the accusation against the student was.
As the HP previously reported, Virginia Wesleyan College had punished a student they found responsible of sexual assault with expulsion. However, when he wanted to transfer, the school changed his status to "voluntarily withdrawal."
Katherine Rizzo, a student at Northeastern University in Boston, was sexually assaulted in April, 2011 and her rapist was found responsible of "sexual assault with penetration." After he transferred to the University of Maryland, his disciplinary status was left as "pending."
"The more people get away with it, the more power people think they have and the worse their attacks will get," Rizzo told the HP. "Schools are not trying to solve the problem. Schools are trying to get the problem off campus.
"It makes it worse."
When Matthew was charged with abduction with the intent to defile last month in Hannah Graham's disappearance, it was the fourth sex crime he was accused of. Graham was a sophomore at the University of Virginia at the time her disappearance, the same school where Matthew, 32, is a hospital worker.
Neither Liberty University nor Christopher Newport University would confirm the reason Matthew transferred out, but he was accused of sexual assault at both institutions. Graham's case may be the first time Matthew could be punished for a suspected sex crime as neither Liberty nor Newport would say if Matthew was punished.
Peter Lake, professor of law and director of the Center for Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University, called the loophole a "fundamental weakness."
"Colleges lack personal jurisdiction. We can't force someone to justice - they can leave," he told the HP. "And it leaves us with our hands very badly tied. What do you do if they leave? The really bad people are going to duck out of being held responsible a lot of times. It's a gap into which the bad people can slip away."
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