Convicted UNC theater professor Vance Fulkerson released from prison one year early

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By John Moore
June 8, 2013

Disgraced University of Northern Colorado theater professor Vance Fulkerson, who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 for the felony sexual exploitation of five children, has been released one year early and is now living in Boulder.

Many students and alumni expressed outrage when Fulkerson received only a four-year prison sentence. He faced a maximum of 12 years in jail.

Fulkerson, 67, did his time at the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas and is now a registered sex offender with Boulder County.  The exact addresses of all sex offenders in Boulder County are included in the registry to warn neighbors, in compliance with sex-offender registration laws. Fulkerson is registered as living in a Boulder apartment complex. (Here is the link to the public registry.) According to the registry web site,  “Persons should not rely solely on the sex-offender registry as a safeguard against perpetrators of sexual assault in their communities. The crime for which a person is convicted may not accurately reflect the level of risk.”

The charge for which Fulkerson was sentenced involved five victims, all under the age of 18. Greeley police identified 13 victims who were secretly videotaped by Fulkerson as they used the toilet in the bathroom in Fulkerson’s Greeley home. There were dozens of other boys on videotapes that were confiscated from Fulkerson’s home, many of whom were never identified or chose not to participate in the criminal prosecution.

Fulkerson resigned from UNC in September 2009, after 18 years at the school. He had been credited with boosting the credibility and national profile of UNC’s theater program.

In exchange for his guilty plea in March 2010, prosecutors dropped 16 counts against him, including six felony counts of sexual exploitation and nine misdemeanor “peeping Tom” charges.

The videotaping occurred roughly over a two-year period from 2007 to 2009. Fulkerson was arrested July 2, 2009, after a student discovered a video camera inside a digital clock on top of the toilet in his bathroom. Police said the video fed directly into six televisions in Fulkerson’s bedroom.

It was there Fulkerson edited the video and created more than 150 DVDs, prosecutor Anthony Perea said at the trial. His shower curtain was clear, so Fulkerson could easily record the boys as they showered as well, Perea said. All the videos were labeled with brief descriptions of what the victims were doing.

Perea argued that Fulkerson used his lengthy resume to lure UNC’s youngest male theater students to his home. “This resume was his candy to get victims into his house and into his bathroom to pull their pants down and urinate for him,” Perea said. One victim who was taking a private voice lesson at Fulkerson’s house said Fulkerson sent him to the bathroom and told him to try urinating while singing. “He told me, ‘You know the muscles you use to pee? Well, that’s where you need to sing from, so why don’t you go in and try using the bathroom and sing?’ ” the man said.

Fulkerson’s attorney, Alexander Garlin, argued at the trial that his client is a repressed homosexual who was raped by at least three men between the ages of 11 and 13. That repression worsened when he began to care for his elderly and sick parents in the 1990s.

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