Schools limited in stopping transfer of potential predators

WASHINGTON — Can universities and colleges stop a potential sexual predator from transferring to their school? It turns out privacy protections shield students’ records, but there is a small window of opportunity to learn more about a student before he or she is accepted at the new school.

Privacy laws can shield a transfer student’s record, like in the case of Jesse Matthew. He’s charged in Hannah Graham’s disappearance. The University of Virginia student has now been missing for a month.

Matthew was accused, but never charged, in rape cases at the two universities he attended more than a decade ago, according to The Washington Post.

Mattew transferred from Liberty University to Christopher Newport University shortly after a woman accused him of sexual assault. Now, the universities are pressing each other to rehash the information they shared following the allegations more than a decade ago, The Post reports.

Matthew left Liberty University when he was accused of rape in October 2002, and he enrolled at CNU the following January. In September 2003, Matthew was accused of sexually assaulting a CNU student on campus, The Post reports.

The Post has learned that the law does not prevent a school from sharing an allegation of assault or any criminal activity during the actual transfer itself. However, once the transfer is done that window closes.

Police say the Graham case is tied by forensics to the 2009 death of another Virginia student, Morgan Harrington, and to a violent Fairfax City sex assault in 2005.

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