SIDNEY — Ohio law requires people who have been convicted of sex crimes to register with county sheriff’s offices as sexual offenders and provide their addresses if they live or work in the county.
Since 2012, the number in Shelby County has dropped by 5.7 percent.
According to Sheriff John Lenhart, in 2018, there were 132 offenders registered here. In 2012, there were 140 names on the list.
Some may have moved away. Others may no longer have to register. Nine were charged in 2018 with failure to register.
“Normally, when they move and don’t tell us, that’s when they get in trouble,” Lenhart told the Sidney Daily News.
In 2018, 117 lived in Shelby County, four were under the age of 18 and four were women. About 50 percent are employed.
“They have a difficult time getting a job. I understand that,” Lenhart said.
The sheriff’s office maintains a website listing of offenders. It is updated daily. At press time, 108 names were listed as sex offenders at co.shelby.oh.us/sheriffs-office/. That list does not include juvenile or jailed offenders.
“We have a yearly meeting where all the sheriff’s offices talk about these issues. Ohio does an excellent job of tracking these folks. (In Shelby County), we have a person assigned to these folks. It’s 60 percent of her job to make sure these folks do what they’re supposed to do,” Lenhart said.
Area residents who have questions or concerns about offenders can call the Sex Offender Registration Notification office at 937-494-2101.
Lt. Cori Steiner said the public often has misconceptions about what offenders can and can’t do.
“A big thing is that people will call in and say that so-and-so is at a park. There’s nothing that says he can’t be in a park. Or they’ll say that so-and-so is living with a woman who has kids. Those are things I can’t do anything about,” she said.
If an offender is on probation or is paroled, he or she may have restrictions based on the conditions of the probation or parole and those restrictions might include being near children. Therefore, Steiner and Deputy Cathy Boettiger check every name someone reports. But being on the registration list doesn’t preclude being with kids.
Offenders register in Tier I, Tier II or Tier III, unless they were convicted before July 1, 1997. In that case, they register as sexually oriented offenders, habitual sex offenders or sexual predators. The judges who convicted them determine which classification they fall in.
If they were convicted after July 1, 2003, they are not permitted to live within 1,000 feet of a school. Those convicted after July 1, 2007, are further restricted and not permitted to live within 1,000 feet of a registered daycare center, either. But those are the only restrictions.
“People think across the board that sex offenders are not allowed to be around kids. That’s a misconception,” Steiner said.
When a Tier III, sexually oriented offender, habitual sex offender or sexual predator moves into a neighborhood, neighbors living within 1,000 feet of the offender’s address are notified by the county sheriff’s office that he or she has set up residence in their area.
Lenhart noted that the rate of recidivism is very high, and that in Shelby County, the majority of victims are minors.