Questions surface over sex offender's involvement in children's - KMOV.com

Questions surface over sex offender's involvement in children's program

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

(KMOV) -- A registered sex offender helps oversee a program for children at the University of Missouri St. Louis campus, but the university says the man doesn't have contact with kids.

Stephen Viola was convicted of two misdemeanor charges of accosting children for immoral purposes. The Missouri Highway Patrol's website shows the victims were nine and ten year old boys. The offense occurred in 1998 in Michigan.

According to Viola's biography on UMSL's website, he has a Ph.D. and currently directs alternative teacher certification programs in the division of continuing education at UMSL. Viola also co-directs the "Pupil Project" which provides vision assessments, therapy and tutoring for children with vision problems.

Bob Samples, UMSL's Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications, said by e-mail: "We did become aware that he was on the sex offense registry. Steps have been put in place to ensure he does not have contact with underage individuals. And we monitor that situation closely."

Samples said he was not sure when Viola joined UMSL, but said the school became aware of Viola's sex offender status about 18 months ago.

Viola was quoted in an article for St. Louis Magazine about the "Pupil Project" more than two years ago. A link to the August, 2008 article is provided on the "Pupil Project" website.  www.umsl.edu/divisions/optometry/PupilProject/PupilProject.html

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