By Scott Greer
Public records show that three universities in Texas recently have employed registered sex offenders whose offenses include sexual assault and indecent sexual contact with a child.
The three universities that are listed as having employed these sex offenders by the Texas State Sex Offender Registry are Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas at Arlington.
Records show Texas A&M has recently employed two convicted offenders: Michael McConnell and Priestley Tindall. McConnell was convicted of one count of sexual assault and one count of indecency with a child sexual contact in 1999. The age of the sexual assault victim was 17. Tindall was convicted of indecency with a child sexual contact in 1990. The victim’s age was 12.
McConnell is still listed in the school staff directory as an active employee, while Tindall is listed in the staff directory as retired. According to Texas Tribune records, he was still employed in 2012.
According to the state’s official sex offender registry, UT at Austin employs two sex offenders: Abel Ephraim and Dan Hemingson. Ephraim was convicted of indecency with a child sexual contact in 1998 and was sentenced to four years in jail. Hemingson was convicted of two counts of indecency with a child sexual contact in 1993 was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
The Texas Tribune still lists Ephraim as an employee of the university. It is unclear if Hemingson is still employed, but his website is hosted by the school and academia.edu lists him as still associated with the university. A recent campus police report lists both men as sex offenders affiliated with the school.
UT at Arlington is listed as employing one sex offender: Robert Jo Fischer. Fischer was convicted of two counts of indecency with a child sexual contact in 1993 and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. The victims’ ages at the time were 4 and 9.
Fischer is listed as a locksmith for the campus police department by the Texas Tribune’s Government Employee Database. Fischer is still on probation for his crimes, according to the Texas Sex Offender Registry.
Shannon Edmonds, attorney for the Texas District and County Attorney Association, discussed what would constitute a sexual assault charge in the state of Texas.
“It generally involves penetration of something…it’s without that person’s consent,” Edmonds stated.
He also commented that an indecency with a child sexual contact involves “external” physical contact rather than internal and it is mainly done without the victim’s consent.
Edmonds confirmed that if an offender is listed as being sentenced for a sex crime in the Texas Sex Offender Registry, that person was convicted of the crime.
“If they are listed as serving jail time in the registry, then they were convicted of the crime that they are listed for,” Edmonds stated.
Justin Pulliam, a recent graduate of Texas A&M, is ashamed that his college would hire registered sex offenders.
“It’s shameful that our school would hire people like this and allow these offenders to have contact with potential victims,” Pulliam commented.
“My conservative group routinely faced discrimination from the administration just for our beliefs, but then they have child molesters on staff? That’s just messed up,” Pulliam stated.