The Pitt News

Pitt police make arrest in Forbes Hall

By Alexa Bakalarski / Assistant News Editor

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Pitt Police arrested a previously convicted sex offender in a University-owned apartment building on Tuesday.

According to a criminal complaint, Pitt police officers were dispatched to Forbes Hall Pavilion at about 8:27 a.m. Tuesday after receiving a report that a homeless man was inside the lobby. There, officers found 45-year-old William J. Burkett sitting on a couch with his shoes off, watching television.

According to the complaint, police asked Burkett if he lived in the building, and he said he was homeless without anywhere to stay. Burkett didn’t have any identification on him.

Pitt dispatch informed the officers on the scene that Burkett was involved in two other incidents with Pitt police within the last week, in which he was “given property warnings.”

While police contacted Allegheny Link ––  an Allegheny County program which connects people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless with services ––  to find housing for Burkett, Pitt dispatch requested the officers to contact them. When the officers contacted Pitt dispatch, Pitt dispatch informed the officers Burkett was a Tier III sex offender.

While it was not clear what Burkett’s past crime was, Tier III indicates that a person was convicted of any sex offense that involves a minor who is 12-years-old or younger, a sexual act with someone by force or threat or a sexual act with someone incapable of declining to participate.

In the report, police said Burkett “served a long sentence in prison” as a result of his crime.

After receiving information that Burkett was a sex offender, police handcuffed him and escorted him out of the building.

The Pitt police officers on scene took Burkett to Pitt’s Public Safety Building on Forbes Avenue and placed him in a holding cell. After speaking with a trooper from the Pennsylvania State Police, officers discovered Burkett failed to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law ––  a law which requires authorities to inform people of the whereabouts of sex offenders ––  within the required 72 hours after Burkett was released from prison on Sept. 29.

Pitt police transported Burkett to the Allegheny County Jail and charged Burkett with criminal trespass and failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements.

“This is a case where the security precautions Pitt uses to protect student living areas worked as designed, thanks to our security and police officials’ prompt and effective action,” Pitt spokesperson John Fedele said in a statement in response to Burkett’s arrest.

Burkett awaits a preliminary hearing Oct. 25. His bail is set at $10,000.

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Pitt police make arrest in Forbes Hall