Temporary Truce In Lawsuit Over Internet Posting Of Sex Offenders

CLEVELAND (AP) - The local sheriff agreed Tuesday to limit posting the names of sex offenders on his department's Web site pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The agreement was worked out in a conference with U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan, who scheduled a further conference May 8 on the lawsuit.

Under the agreement, Cuyahoga County Sheriff Gerald McFaul agreed to limit new Web postings to sexual predators, the most serious level of sexual offense.

The names of lower-level sexual offenders would be kept off future postings pending the outcome of the lawsuit, according to Raymond Vasvari, legal director of the ACLU in Ohio.

County prosecutors represented the sheriff in court.

"It wasn't what either side wanted, but it was what both sides could live with," said Chris Frey, an assistant county prosecutor. "We're able to maintain notification of the most serious offenders. That was an important thing for us."

ACLU officials said more than 30 counties in Ohio are posting information about sexual predators on Web sites that could be affected by the lawsuit.

The ACLU said McFaul planned to use recent changes in the state's sexual predator law to expand by more than 1,000 the number of offenders whose personal information is listed on the sheriff's Web site.

Ohio's 1997 "Megan's Law" requires convicted sex offenders to register with local authorities. It was modeled after a New Jersey law named for a 7-year-old girl who was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender living in her neighborhood.

The ACLU said the expanded postings are intended to stigmatize offenders who have served their sentences. The prosecutor supported the expanded postings as appropriate.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)