COLUMBUS – An Ohio legislative panel yesterday rubber-stamped an unprecedented process that would allow sex offenders to be publicly identified and tracked even if they’ve never been charged with a crime.
No one in attendance voiced opposition to rules submitted by Attorney General Jim Petro’s office to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, consisting of members of the Ohio House and Senate.
The committee’s decision not to interfere with the rules puts Ohio in a position to become the first state to test a “civil registry.”
The concept was offered by Roman Catholic bishops as an alternative to opening a one-time window for the filing of civil lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse that occurred as long as 35 years ago.
A recently enacted law allows county prosecutors, the state attorney general, or, as a last resort, alleged victims to ask judges to civilly declare someone to be a sex offender even when there has been no criminal verdict or successful lawsuit.
The rules spell out how the untried process would work. It would largely treat a person placed on the civil registry the same way a convicted sex offender is treated under Ohio’s so-called Megan’s Law.
… wow, that’s nice. Let’s go ahead and punish someone even though we couldn’t convict him in a criminal trial! (And yes, being on one of these registries is a punishment.) It disgusts me how civil courts/law is being used to trump the “beyond a reasonable doubt” stipulation of the criminal courts. Just like civil forfeiture laws, this punishes the legally innocent.
This is just another reason why I say I love the concept and idea of America, but the reality horrifies me…