Ohio’s sex offender registry aims to keep families safe

(AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The case of John Bove, a convicted sex offender accused of kidnapping and killing a friend’s teenage daughter, prompted several questions from viewers about sex offender registration.

Ohio law requires sex offenders to go online and list where they live. It’s a way that’s supposed to keep your family safe.

Beginning in 1997, Ohio law required convicted sex offenders to register with their local sheriff’s office. At that time, those records were only available to law enforcement.

Then, another Ohio law created the database that would be accessible to the public.

Eve Mueller, deputy director of Communications for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation has been maintaining that online registry since 2003

Those lists are also available on your county sheriff’s website or by signing up for a mailing list. There are also apps, which can be downloaded to a cell phone.

“Exposure is probably the best way to protect your family. Notifying neighbors, telling people in your neighborhood,” said Mahoning County Sheriff’s Detective Will Harris.

But it’s not a perfect system.

Harris focuses on the sex offender registry for Mahoning County. He said he visits people several times a week who register incorrectly.

“You get an offender who doesn’t want the exposure. They’re embarrassed so they register one address and then they’ll live at another address that no one where he’s actually living knows he is a sex offender,” he said.

Bove registered an Ashtabula address to the online registry for his 1990 rape conviction in New York. Ashtabula Police did not say if the victim’s family was aware of Bove criminal past.

Harris recommends first and foremost, knowing who your children are with.

“If you know there is a sex offender in your neighborhood, supervise your children closely. The information is free to the public to know,” he said. “We can’t stress that enough: Watch your children.”

Through BCI’s Sex Offender Registry, you can also sign up for alerts within a selected radius and look up phone numbers. For example, if you found a phone number in your child’s phone, you could check to see if that number links to a registered sex offender who has registered that number.