Late this afternoon, I spoke with University Park police Capt. Leon Holman. He wanted to answer a few questions that have been raised in the comments on Merritt’s two posts regarding Robert Dowe Coleman.
1. Why wasn’t Coleman registered as a sex offender with the UPPD?
“He didn’t have to,” Holman said. In September 2009, he said, a new state law went into effect that required any sex offenders with convictions since 1970 to retroactively register with local authorities. After 30 minutes of Googling, I’ve been unable to find documentation of such a change. But I’ll keep looking.
“We tried to get Coleman to register back in 2006, and we found out he didn’t have to,” Holman said. By the time the law changed in 2009, “he had fallen off the radar. We didn’t even know he was still around until the video incident.”
When the mother from the video incident alerted the police, the UPPD called Coleman, who came down to City Hall with his attorney and registered, Holman said.
“He has to come in every year for the rest of his life before his birthday and register,” Holman said. “If he moves away, then he has to register in whatever city he moves to.”
2. Why didn’t the UPPD arrest Coleman after the video incident?
Coleman’s actions in the video incident were not criminal. “It might have been creepy, but he did not break the law,” Holman said.
3. Why is Coleman allowed to live in University Park?
Holman said Coleman has lived here since the ’70s, and is therefore grandfathered in; the UPPD’s hands are tied. “If he came here as a brand-new resident, we could try to prevent him from moving in,” Holman said.