Columbia Station haunted house that hired sex offenders says they plan to start background checks
COLUMBIA STATION, Ohio (WOIO) - A Sheffield Lake mother claims she quit working at the Spooky Ranch haunted house when she discovered some of her coworkers were on the child sex offender registry.
“Physically sick, sick to my stomach,” Kim Neubauer said.
Neubauer said when she found out the truth about her coworkers. She felt like Spooky Ranch should have let customers know.
“Since they failed to put the notice up that they were there with minors, somebody has to say something,” Neubauer said. “I guess I’m that somebody.”
One of them was on the registry for unlawful sexual conduct with a 15-year-old and the other, a habitual sex offender, convicted of raping a 7-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy.
One of the offenders served jail time and was released. The other was sentenced to community control.
“It seemed like nobody wanted to listen,” said Neubauer. “I made excuses to go in and check to see if he was still there where he’s supposed to be because I was so uncomfortable.”
So Neubauer quit.
“The owners have reached out to me to apologize but they don’t owe me an apology,” Neubauer said. “They owe all those innocent children and all those innocent people that were unaware of the monsters they had working there the real monsters.”
19 reporter Kelly Kennedy texted the owner of Spooky Ranch. She said she fired the two sex offenders because she didn’t want any problems or bad publicity. She said she did not do background checks, but said she will start doing them from now on.
“They need to be more strict with the laws about doing background checks on people, making sure they’re not registered or anything,” said former employee Bradley Perkins. “They need to be very strict because otherwise the kids around the world are not gonna be safe.”
The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office said there’s no law that they know of that stops sex offenders from working at a haunted house.
According to the sheriff’s office, neither of the men reported the haunted house as their employer this year or last year. The sheriff’s office says that is a violation. Cleveland attorney Susan Moran said not reporting your employment comes with criminal penalties.
But are sex offenders allowed to work at a haunted house in Ohio?
“It doesn’t specify really anything other than childcare agencies and everything that is spelled out within that statute, so you know they’re told to stay away from schools, but they’re not told to stay away from a haunted house,” Moran said.
Moran said an employer who hires someone on the registry to work with kids is putting themselves in a dangerous position.
“If an employer kind of recklessly hires somebody and something happens at this haunted house, they are presumably liable from a civil standpoint,” Moran said.
House Bill 459 that would make it a criminal offense for some sex offenders to work directly with children.
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