What to know about sex offender laws in Ohio

7:00 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 Local

Butler County Sheriff’s Office officials warn residents that the best way to receive accurate information about registered sex offenders is through their website.

All sex offender registries are public record and are accessible through local sheriff’s offices. The information, which includes a photo and the charge of conviction, can also be found on some privately-run websites. But officials say residents should be wary of the accuracy of those websites.

“It is best to go to the sheriff’s office website for the complete list. Some of the private sites do not have accurate information,” Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Jacobs told the Journal-News.

The return of Brock Turner to the region after his conviction for a sexual assault charge has shined a spotlight on sex offender registration laws in Ohio.

Turner is one of 130 sex offenders registered in Greene County as of Friday, and one of thousands registered in the state. The former Oakwood resident and ex-Stanford swimmer, was convicted in California of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman near a dumpster, served half of his six-month jail sentence and was released last week. He is now a Tier III sex offender and must register his residence with the sheriff every 90 days for the rest of his life.

Under Ohio law, all convicted sexual offenders must register and will remain on a state list anywhere from 15 years to a lifetime. Registration became law in 1996 through “Megan’s Law” after a 7-year-old from New Jersey was raped and murdered by an unregistered convicted sex offender who lived in her neighborhood.

In 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act required the classification of sex offenders into three levels based on their crimes.

As of Friday there were 441 adult offenders registered in Butler County, according to the sheriff’s office.

But that count does not include about 30 juvenile sex offenders, which by law, cannot be publicly accessed, according to Deputy Toby Spencer, who is tasked with keeping all registered sex offenders within Butler County in compliance with their court-ordered sanctions.

In Greene County, where Turner lives, sex offenders during registration are also asked questions about the victim, including their race, eye and hair color, according to Sheriff Gene Fischer.

“It is used as an investigative tool,” Fischer said, noting the additional information is available to law enforcement and can prove useful to determine if the person is being truthful with the officer who will monitor his whereabouts.

There are three classifications of registered sex offenders, which are determined at the time of conviction based on the crime. The highest level — Tier III — requires registration for life, and neighbors who live within 1,200 feet are notified by mail when an offender moves into the neighborhood.

The “community notice” card includes a photo of offender, with identifying information and their address as well as how to report suspicious activity and safety.

“That is Tier III offenders only,” Jacobs said.

Tier II offenders are required to register every 180 days for 25 years and Tier I offenders, once a year for 15 years. Neighbors are not notified by mail for Tier II and I offenders.

Deputies do periodic, unannounced checks of registered offenders to make sure they are living where registered and at least annually in Butler County, the department does a mass sweep to check up on all addresses.

“We average at least 20 checks a month,” Jacobs said. Those who do not keep their requirements for registration are prosecuted.

To access information about Butler County register sex offenders, go to www.butlersheriff.org and click on “search sex offenders.”

Residents can also call Jacobs at 513-785-1246 and Spencer at 513-785-1277

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