...and I don't mean "love." I mean LOOPHOLE. It is that annoying news buzzword that makes people think every registered citizen sits in law libraries all day looking for ways to circumvent the law. I HATE when reporters use that word.
Loophole in Ohio sex offender registry law aided online sexual predators
Lawmakers working to fix loophole
5:14 AM, Mar 1, 2016
A loophole in Ohio's sex offender registry law may have aided a Cleveland man and convicted sexual predator in soliciting a 14-year-old girl for sex on the internet.
Larun Miller, 47, was convicted of a sex offense involving two 15-year-old victims back in 2005. Newsnet5.com uncovered social media pages reportedly used by Miller that were not registered with the state.
While illegal, Miller's failure to provide complete internet information is not currently punishable by law.
Miller's continued internet use led to a second sex offense involving a minor in 2014.
Investigators posing as a 14-year-old girl online captured several conversations between Miller and the fake minor, in which he discussed, in graphic detail, meeting up with the young victim for sex.
In February, Miller was found guilty on four counts related to sexually explicit conduct with a minor and failing to register. He will be sentenced in May.
Current Ohio law requires registered sex offenders to provide change of registered address, registered address verification, notice of intent to reside, and change of registered vehicle, email, Internet, and telephone information.
“But we have found that there’s nothing in the law that requires it to be accurate,” Senator John Eklund, District 18, said of the internet information in particular.
Eklund, a co-sponsor of S.B. 184 , said the new legislation will help close that loophole. The bill passed through the Senate in December and is currently making its way through the House of Representatives.
Miller's case raises bigger questions about convicted sex offenders and internet use.
Some states, including Nevada and Illinois , have specific policies in place restricting internet use for offenders post-conviction.
New York makes the internet data provided by sex offenders available to social-networking sites and certain other online services, allowing them to purge users from their sites.
Ohio does not have a blanket policy. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections told newsnet5.com it has a policy that covers offender access to information technology while incarcerated . But specific restrictions for offenders upon their release are handled by probation officers.
Eklund acknowledged that dangers exist in not mandating internet restrictions for repeat offenders but said a large-scale policy would be difficult to draft in Ohio.
"Even convicted felons have first amendment rights," Eklund told newsnet5.com. "I'd be very concerned about the extent to which we would make blanket statements."
Criminal defense attorney and cyber crimes expert Ian Friedman agreed with Eklund, arguing that passing an internet use law could result in a "slippery slope."
"We really have a way to do all of this," Friedman said. "So what I would suggest is we don’t need more laws. We just have to make use of the system that we have in place."
Friedman argued that the system should do a better job at identifying offenders who are likely to repeat.
"There's a line in the sand," Friedman explained, separating the offenders who actively chat minors and arrange to meet with them versus the offenders who find child pornography on the internet.
Newsnet5.com reached out to the ACLU of Ohio about proposed internet restrictions for offenders. A spokesperson declined to comment.