National News

Sex offenders likely enrolled in Tennessee colleges

Posted June 21

— There's no way to really know how many sex offenders attend colleges and universities in the state of Tennessee.

Laws prohibit them from living in dormitories on campus, but that's it. Sex offenders aren't required to notify a school about their crime when they enroll, as long as they update their profile on the statewide sex offender database.

When Oregon State University baseball pitcher Luke Heimlich was exposed as a convicted child molester earlier this month, it prompted a national discussion over how closely colleges and universities should be monitoring students convicted of sex crimes.

Channel 4 reached out to officials at eight schools in Tennessee (UT Knoxville, East Tennessee State, MTSU, Lipscomb, TSU, Vanderbilt, Austin Peay, and Memphis) asking if their school works with police to monitor which students are sex offenders. We also asked if their school has any current students on the sex offender registry.

UT Knoxville did not respond to our questions and a spokesperson for Vanderbilt declined to comment. Officials at Lipscomb, TSU and Austin Peay said to their knowledge, their school has never had a sex offender student and an official at ETSU said to his knowledge the school does not have sex offenders currently enrolled. Only Memphis and MTSU said they've had sex offender students in the past.

Currently, there are two sex offenders enrolled in classes at MTSU this summer. The MTSU Police Department reports an average of five to 10 sex offenders enrolled in a given fall or spring semester.

"Here you are meeting different types of people, and now it just makes you think who's really in your circle," questioned recent MTSU graduate Shunda Rodgers. "Do you really know these people?"

Channel 4 has requested the list of current MTSU students on the sex offender registry. A spokesperson said school attorneys are still determining whether the list is protected by federal student privacy laws.

"I think it should be a matter of discretion," said MTSU junior Rutger Moore. "It doesn't need to be open to the public."

Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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