Law loophole: Sex offenders living close to Cleveland schools

Law loophole: sex offenders living close to Cleveland schools

Some sex offenders are living just a few hundred feet from Cleveland schools, even right across from them, and it is not against the law.

19 Action News has been digging and found out there are some loopholes in the state law you need to know about to keep your family safe.

James has three kids and lives in Ohio City just off I-90. He has asked us not to reveal his last name.

is just across the street from James. His neighbors include five sex offenders living just minutes away. One of them lives just 300 feet from the school, a one minute walk away.

And until now, most neighbors thought it was illegal.

"It's kind of unsettling, so yeah, I'm not happy about it," James said.

James thought he did his research. He thought those sex offenders were living too close to the school. But we told him they're not breaking any laws.

Sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school, right? That is true—for some.

It turns out there are several exceptions to the state law.

It does not apply to sex offenders who committed crimes before July 2003.

"That still doesn't justify anything, because it happened so long ago. How do you know it won't happen again?" said Shana Jones, who also lives across the street from Orchard STEM School.

Jones, a parent herself, says the sex offender notices keep coming.

"They live directly across from the front entrance of the school and the back of the school," she said.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office tells 19 Action News police cannot arrest sex offenders even if they are breaking the law by living too close to a school because it is not a criminal violation.

You need an injunction to evict, filed by a neighbor or a city legal officer.

"I didn't know that. That's mind blowing, I didn't know that. That makes me really upset!" Jones said.
Some neighbors aren't so bothered with having sex offenders living nearby.

They're willing to give these guys a second chance.

Steve Tancak rents a place to a sex offender living behind his house.

"I don't mind because I know a friend of his and he said he's an alright guy. And I have a lot of faith and confidence," Tancak said.

He says other people have shown kindness to him and he's just passing that along.

"I don't judge people, I really don't. And I hate to be a judge," he said.

But many of his neighbors like James and Shana can't believe sex offenders can live so close to our schools.

They think the law needs to change.

"It's very surprising. Actually until you mentioned it, I didn't know any of the loopholes," James said.

"Everyone on the street has kids under the age of 12. It's not right, and I'm glad I know this now," Jones said.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office says sex offenders do have to report their current address to their local sheriff's office.

If a sex offender gives them an address within 1,000 feet of a school, an alert should pop up in their database and they can check whether or not the offender is allowed to stay there.
But once a sex offender actually moves in, a court order is needed to evict.

This isn't the only neighborhood where sex offenders are living near schools legally.
To check on your area, you can go to your sheriff's office website to check a map and sign up for alerts.

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