Visiting Stanford scholar is a sex offender

Kurt Mitman

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

A visiting scholar at Stanford is a convicted sex offender who spent time in prison after pleading guilty to forcing himself on a 14-year-old boy in Pennsylvania in 2004.

Kurt Elliott Mitman, 37, of Palo Alto, is an assistant professor at the Institute for International Economic Studies at Stockholm University. He is doing economics research at Stanford through next month, his personal website states.

Mitman’s past was first reported Thursday by the Fountain Hopper, an underground student newspaper distributed via email, which cited a 2007 story from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Stanford’s reaction?

“We have just learned of this and are looking into it. We do not have any information at this time,” Stanford spokesman E.J. Miranda told the Post in an email Thursday night. “The safety of our campus community is a critical priority for the university, and we investigate and address anything that may be a threat to that safety.”

Mitman couldn’t be reached for comment.

The 2007 Philadelphia Inquirer story said that Mitman was taking classes at the University of Pennsylvania on a release program from a state prison while serving a 5- to 21-year sentence. Officials in the area were shocked that Mitman was being released each day to attend classes.

“No university would want that person on their campus,” said Diane Gibbons, then the district attorney for Bucks County in suburban Philadelphia, according to the Inquirer. “No parent would want their children there.”

In 2005, Mitman pleaded guilty to “involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old boy,” the Inquirer reported reported.

His listing on California’s sex offender registry states that he was convicted of oral copulation with a person under 16 while he was over the age of 21.

Kurt Mitman’s listing in the California Sex Offender Registry.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mitman was charged with assaulting the teen in July 2004, after they met at a three-week summer camp for gifted students at Lafayette College, on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Mitman was a 22-year-old residential assistant while the teen was a camper, the Inquirer reported.

Mitman testified in 2007 that he hadn’t told Penn officials of his criminal record when he applied in December 2005, and didn’t mention it after he was accepted.

He was reinstated in Penn’s economics department in 2008, after receiving parole, but didn’t serve as a teaching assistant or live in campus housing.

22 Comments

  1. So would you do the same hack job of reportingn if the person was a convicted drug dealer or maybe a gang member who in a drive by shot a kid. Let’s define people by the worst mistake they made.

    • “Let’s define people by the worst mistake they made” … that’s a breathtaking trivialization of child molestation. Have you ever talked to a victim of a child molester? Somebody who will be harmed for the rest of their life? “A mistake”? Are you kidding me? Maybe you’re trying to normalize child molestation, but it doesn’t work with me.

      • No one is “normalizing” anything. In our society you get punished for breaking the law, then you get to live your life again. This treats people like monsters for the rest of their lives.

  2. Let me get this correct. A person researching for another international university that is studying economics at college where adults, not children, attend? Has committed no new crime? Found out he was a registered sex offender by an underground newspaper? The post called a district attorney in another state for comment citing nobody would want him rhetoric? Then reposts data from a public sex registry site as if people are unable to look for themselves? Then reports that he failed to tell his past university of his crime that wasn’t a requirement unless the university made a provision despite being re-admitted? Naturally no comment or sources from the accused?

    The first lesson in journalism is to bring no harm. This article borderlines call to action journalism in the worst possible way. Instead of attempts to locate redeeming qualities from a past this writer introduces a one sided scare tactic not reporting news but filtering tabloid journalism for a self serving campaign to bring harm to others when no new crime or allegations exist. No wonder why fake news has shifted from the far right to mainstream? This isn’t a story. It’s doxing journalism to bring harm to redemption, recovery, respect and retaliation.

    • “The first lesson in journalism is to bring no harm.”

      No, but good journalism helps the public prevent harm. That’s exactly what this article does. It alerts the campus community that a sex offender from another state is present at Stanford. Maybe you think the public doesn’t have a right to know? Perhaps you could list the other things that might be harmful to the public that they’re not entitled to know about? Or is your thing protecting child molesters?

      • Alice your sense of awareness and safety might benefit from some facts. The registry is lifetime and many people are not listed on the public website and only with law enforcement. This man is required to register for life under California law, one of 3 states who require lifetime registry. He complied.

        This registry was created in 1940 for gay men. Many are still registered and over 90 years old. All people placed in California will die on the registry.

        A revised law will be set free after 10 years people who possessed illegal pornography. After 20 years people who have had sex w minors will be able to apply for removal.

        This man was 22 years old and had sex w a minor. You might ask your circle if anyone had sex w a minor as it is more common than you think. 18 year old with 15 year old for example was not uncommon.

        Maybe support a public gun registry since mass shootings are almost daily.

        • @AcsolCA, don’t try to compare a child molester with somebody convicted of having sex with an underaged person. Mitman was sent to prison for a reason. I’m not going to second-guess the jury in his case, which is apparently what you’re doing by minimizing the crime of child molestation.

          One more thing — it’s a myth that there was a a registry for gay men in the U.S. … And Megan’s Law didn’t become a federal law until 1996.

        • A public gun registry is not the equivalent of a sex offender registry. That would be a public genitalia registry. A public registry of people who committed mass shootings is the equivalent of a sex offender registry. And, we don’t need one because if you kill someone with a gun in a mass sitting, the public will know who you are and you’ll be in prison.

  3. >Let’s define people by the worst mistake they made.

    Not that we don’t.
    It’s just that in the spectrum of “mistakes” and criminal offenses, society in general shudders when it comes to sex offenders esp where minors are involved.

    No reason to be hard on the journalist for reporting what (most) people deem material and significant. She deserves kudos, not blame.

  4. That’s right, sweep it under the rug. People don’t have the right to know that a registered sex offender is roaming around on campus. These guys never repeat their actions!

  5. I wonder if he sought treatment.
    I wonder if he regrets his actions.
    I wonder if he has learned from his choices.
    I wonder if he has become a different person in the FIFTEEN YEARS since his offense.

    Are YOU the same person you were fifteen years ago?

    Overall, people who commit sex offenses have been shown to have a recidivism rate (5%) higher ONLY than people who have committed murder.

    Instead of fearmongering over the person he WAS, maybe consider that – as a HUMAN with the capacity to change – it may not be who he has chosen to be going FORWARD.

    What he did was wrong. He served his sentence. Good. Now we know.

    And now comes his chance to be a better man, such as we would all want for ourselves.

  6. OMG, 5% less than murderers? Maybe that’s what NAMBLA says in its literature, but if you look at actual research, the real story is that sex offenders, particularly child molesters, are much more likely to re-offend than non-sex offenders.

    For instance, this study (Langan, Schmitt and Durose (2003)), found that sexual recidivism rates that are four times higher for sex offenders compared to non-sex offenders. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rsorp94.pdf

    On page 24 of that study, on the right hand portion of the page, you’ll find the rearrest rate of child molesters is 51.4% for an offender Mitman’s age.

    Given the high recidivism rate of child molesters, I think the Post performed a valuable public service by printing this story.

  7. Chances are he is registered w local police and on campus. Campus registration is confidential and I’ll bet there are other students registered citizens at Stanford as there are at colleges . Why ? Because they have a right to education.

    • @AcsolCA, Duh, he’s registered. It says so in the story and there’s a picture showing his registration information. Try reading the story before commenting on it. But I guess you’re too busy trying to normalize the crime of child molestation.

  8. Section 290.46 of the CA penal code expresses California’s public policy that seeks to protect offenders from “additional punishment” or “retribution” once they have paid their debt to society and have resumed their place among their fellow citizens. California is “peculiar” on this front—most other states’ Megan’s Laws do not include similar restrictions on the use of the Registry in employment contexts.

  9. There is a group of Stanford faculty, grad students and others who support men who have sexual relationships with boys. They desperately want this kind of behavior to be seen as “normal,” so of course they’re going to lash out at a story like this. They want the media to know that this is a subject you should never broach or you’ll have to contend with the LGBTQ lobby. I don’t think the LBGTQ advocates sympathize with child molesters, but the child molesters would like to associate themselves with the LGBTQ community. I wouldn’t be surprised if members of the Stanford community (who are apart of this man-love group) castigate the Post for printing this story. I hope the Post isn’t intimidated by them.

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