RIVERSIDE, Calif. – When flyers appeared at Riverside City College on April Fool's Day saying the student body president was a sex offender, students were stunned by the cruel prank. They were even more stunned when they learned it was true.
"I was flabbergasted," said Amanda Waring, a theater arts major who works for the school newspaper. "At first people thought it was a joke."
Doug Robert Figueroa, 40, who was elected to a one-year term as student body president in May, pleaded guilty in 2005 to kidnapping and lewd and lascivious acts with a boy under 14, the Riverside Press Enterprise reported. His five-year prison term was immediately suspended and he's serving 10 years' probation.
Figueroa told the newspaper in an e-mail that he has not tried to hide his past.
"Many students have been aware of my status and we believe in rehabilitation," Figueroa said. "I dedicate my life to change the stigmas on these types of offenses. Don't get me wrong, there are some offenders that truly need to be on high supervision."
College administrators released a statement saying Figueroa had notified them of his status as required, and that his name appeared in a publicly available binder identifying campus sex offender at the college police department. They said Figueroa was told not to engage in activities that violate his probation, and he was not at the school's annual Halloween or Easter celebrations, where many children gather.
"The administration reviewed the district policies, the law and the constitution of the Associated Students and determined that there was no policy, statute or ordinance that could prohibit this student from seeking office as student body president," the statement said.