The Riverside City College student body president convicted of kidnapping and committing lewd acts with a child confirmed his status as a sex offender Thursday.
But Doug Figueroa, 40, emphasized that he pleaded guilty, in part so that he “could immediately engage in … proactive change in my life.”
In an email to The Times, Figueroa said he enrolled in school and became involved on campus to help foster that change.
“My heart does go out to any victim of any kind of abuse,” he wrote in the email. “I have worked hard in integrating back into society after making this mistake and not once have I blamed anyone but myself.
“I have apologized to the victim in person and I have taken accountability for everything I have done,” he wrote. “But I need to move on with my life, and the position I have at RCC is helping me to do just that.”
Court records show Figueroa was accused of kidnapping and committing lewd acts on a child younger than 14 in October 2005. He pleaded guilty and was convicted of two felony counts four months later. He was sentenced to 10 years’ probation in March 2006.
The terms of Figueroa’s probation included 39 provisions that prevent him from accepting work in “any position where minors are present” or attending social functions where activities with minors are the “primary function.”
School officials knew about Figueroa’s status prior to his run for office, but in a statement they said they had “determined that there was no policy, statute or ordinance that could prohibit this student from seeking office as student body president.”
The statement said there were “legal considerations the college and district had to consider related to any announcement.”
Figueroa said his accomplishments as student body president had been overlooked in media coverage of his status as a sex offender. He said that under his leadership the Associated Students of Riverside City College has enacted several new programs that serve students.
He listed a student-run book rental program, efforts to secure funding for a peer-to-peer mental health support program and a donation-based student resource center among his accomplishments in office.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported that some students were shocked by the news about their leader and upset that the school administration did not disclose Figueroa’s record.
“Given the nature of his violation, there are certain legal obligations and restrictions, which [Figueroa] is legally required to perform,” the school’s statement said. “He is aware of this issue and has also been instructed by the appropriate College Student Services Administrator not to engage in activities that may violate the law.”
The Riverside Community College District, the statement said, “has complied with all of its legal obligations pertaining to this issue and is continuing to monitor the situation to ensure the safety and security of its students and staff.”