Word of Doug Robert Figueroa's criminal sexual background became widely known on campus this week when an anonymous flyer was distributed, The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise reported Thursday.
The 40-year-old Riverside man was sentenced to five years in prison after admitting that in 2005 he kidnapped a boy under the age of 14 and committed lewd and lascivious acts on him, the newspaper said. His prison term was suspended and he was placed on 10 years probation.
Figueroa said in an email Wednesday evening that many students have been aware of his background and believe in rehabilitation.
"I dedicate my life to change the stigmas on these types of offenses," he wrote. "Don't get me wrong, there are some offenders that truly need to be on high supervision."
In an attached letter he submitted to the campus newspaper, Figueroa said he intends to finish out the one-year school post he was elected to last May.
"In holding a public student office, I understand that there will always be those that are malicious and try to prevent good from happening," he wrote. "But I am a strong person, a strong leader and through the support of many friends and colleagues, I will continue fighting for the good of every student at Riverside City College."
Amanda Waring, one of the college's approximately 19,000 students, said she was "flabbergasted" when she saw the flyer on Monday.
"At first people thought it was a joke, because it was on April Fools' Day," said Waring, 20, of Riverside.
"Everyone is going crazy now about this story. It was definitely not generally known."
The college said in a statement Tuesday that Figueroa had told administrators about his legal status before he ran for student body president.
"At that time, the administration reviewed the district policies, the law and the constitution of the Associated Students and determined that there was no policy, statute or ordinance that could prohibit this student from seeking office as student body president," the statement said.