COLUMBUS, OHIO – State Representatives Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) and Bob Cupp (R-Lima) today announced plans to partner with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien to introduce new legislation to strengthen Ohio’s child-enticement law.
The lawmakers are rushing to close the loophole after charges were dropped in Worthington against convicted sex offender Jonathan Ringel for allegedly enticing at least two 9-year-old girls, and possibly other children, to enter his vehicle this week. That decision came in response to an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that declared part of the statute unconstitutional. Ringel remains under arrest pending a review of his parole status for sexual offenses committed in Virginia.
“While I am thankful Jonathan Ringel is currently under arrest pending his parole violation review, it was shocking to hear his child enticement charge was dropped on the basis of Romage,” said Rep. Duffey. “While we can all agree that normal, innocent behavior should not be criminalized, it is not at all normal for a stranger to approach fourth graders and coax them to enter his vehicle. I am committed to updating Ohio law to ensure this dangerous predatory behavior is completely illegal.”
Franklin County Municipal Court decided the city could not prosecute Ringel for enticement since the Ohio Supreme Court declared the state law partially unconstitutional in State v. Romage (2014). While that case was on appeal, the legislature attempted to tighten the statute in SB 64 (2013).
“Child predators should always be held accountable when they make attempts to entice children,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “I am looking forward to working with Representatives Duffey and Cupp to strengthen Ohio’s law in this area.”
While the charge was dropped, Ringel remains under arrest pending parole review. Ringel was convicted in Rockingham County, Virginia of possession of child pornography and taking indecent liberties with minors in 2014. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison but was released on parole.
“Protecting our children is of paramount importance,” said Rep. Cupp. “I look forward to helping craft an effective, workable and constitutional law to do just that with my colleague, Rep. Duffey.”
While most of the details of the legislation will be worked out in the coming weeks, Reps. Duffey and Cupp said they would attempt to clarify the law by ensuring it applies to strangers without any legitimate relationship to a child and also to those with prior sexual offender status. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien have also thrown their support behind the legislation and offered to begin working on ways to strengthen the law.
“We are working with the police to file another charge under a related statute and I look forward to assisting Rep. Duffey on amending the existing statute to solve the problem created by the court decision,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.
Representatives Duffey and Cupp hope to have legislation introduced before session begins again in September.