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Visiting scholar, a registered sex offender, served felony sentence for sexually assaulting a child

It is unclear whether University officials knew of Kurt Mitman’s criminal background before he joined Stanford’s economics department in March

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Despite a 2005 felony conviction for sexually assaulting a minor, a registered sex offender is currently a visiting scholar in Stanford’s Economics department.

The individual, Kurt Mitman, began his Stanford position in March, and is set to continue at the University through June of this year, according to his online resume.

It is unclear whether any University officials — administrators or other scholars in the economics department — were aware of Mitman’s criminal background, prior to his hiring or during his term. Stanford spokesperson E.J. Miranda and Economics Department Chair B. Douglas Bernheim said that the University is investigating the matter. “We have just learned of this and are looking into it,” Miranda wrote in an email to The Daily on Thursday night.

Online media coverage of Mitman’s criminal past is widespread, as multiple news outlets reported on details of his conviction. Mitman’s enrollment in the University of Pennsylvania’s economics doctoral program while serving jail time sparked controversy in 2007. His criminal history and current position at Stanford were first reported on Thursday evening by The Fountain Hopper, an email newsletter distributed campus-wide.

Mitman did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Daily.

In March 2005, Mitman was sentenced to two-and-a-half to five years in prison for the assault, which occurred at a summer camp where Mitman served as a residential assistant and the boy was a camper.

Mitman’s affiliation with Stanford dates back to at least 2015, when he presented work at a Hoover Institution conference. He also spoke at a seminar at Stanford in April 2018 and co-organized an on-campus economics conference in August of the same year. Since 2014, he has been an assistant professor at Stockholm University.

Mitman attended the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) as an economics graduate student in 2006 while still serving a felony sentence for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in July 2004. A Penn spokesperson said that the university was unaware of Mitman’s status as a sex offender upon his acceptance to the economics graduate program in December 2005, and that Penn’s application did not request this background information from Mitman when he applied.

As part of an academic-release program, he was free for 12 hours a day, driving his personal vehicle from Bucks County Prison to attend classes at Penn, before a judge suspended his participation in the program.

By 2008, after he receiving parole, Mitman was reinstated in the Economics department, although he was required to meet “behavioral standards” set by both Penn and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. A Penn spokesperson said he would not serve as a teaching assistant nor live in campus housing.

Appointment as a visiting scholar does not include a regular salary, according to University policy, though in some cases appointees may receive stipends or other forms of payment. Visiting scholars are invited by “faculty or other qualified individuals” and typically complete research or scholarship only, without teaching classes or advising students. The University can revoke the appointment at any time at its discretion.

This is not the first time that a Stanford scholar’s past sexual misconduct has come to light after they have joined the institution. In Dec. 2017, The Daily reported that research psychologist Emanuele Castano, who was then an unpaid visiting professor at the School of Medicine, had resigned from his former institution amidst an ongoing Title IX investigation. The former institution, the New School, had closed the investigation when Castano left for Stanford. Following the article’s publication, the University suspended Castano’s visiting professorship.

Julia Ingram contributed to this report.

Contact Charlie Curnin at ccurnin ‘at’ stanford.edu, Patrick Monreal at pmonreal ‘at’ stanford.edu and Courtney Douglas at ccdouglas ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Charlie Curnin

Charlie Curnin

Charlie Curnin '22 is a News desk editor from New York interested in computer science. Contact him at ccurnin ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Patrick Monreal

Patrick Monreal

Patrick Monreal '22 is a desk editor for the Student Groups beat in news and contributes satire to The Grind. He is a native of Fresno, California, and is interested in studying the natural sciences, public policy and the intersection of the two, especially when it comes to environmental issues. Contact him at pmonreal 'at' stanford.edu.

Courtney Douglas

Courtney Douglas

Courtney Douglas is a senior staff writer. She served as Editor in Chief of The Daily's 254th volume and has worked for the paper since the beginning of her freshman year. Outside The Daily, she studies English and political science and is an avid long-distance runner. Originally from Coronado, California, she is an alumna of The Bishop's School.