Guest Author - Jeanette Stingley
This is a proposed bill in the State of Ohio to make court records of sex offenders who violate anyone under 18 unsealed and open to be viewed by the general public. It was proposed by a Cincinnati resident named Jennifer Hartke. She was sexually abused by her step-father as a child. He was initially charged with a felony but he pled no contest to a lesser misdemeanor charge of gross sexual imposition which allowed his record to be sealed making it seem as if nothing happened.
In a quest to let people know what he did to her and to protect other children from him and sex offenders like her step-father, Jennifer petitioned the court to change the laws. Jennifer’s family and a child abuse advocate were at her side and spoke at the hearing. They are hoping the proposed bill will deter offenders from repeating their past mistakes or help someone doing a background check on a person find out what they have done to children.
There are already laws in Ohio that prevent certain offenses from being sealed including rape, sexual battery and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Currently convictions of voyeurism, public indecency and trying to meet teens on-line can be sealed with a judge's approval. Jenny’s Law will close the loophole and make ALL cases open. The Senate has passed this on March 28 with a 32 -1 vote. The one senator that voted against it has been quoted as saying “this goes to far.” In my opinion, when it comes to protecting children, is this really too much to ask and how does it go too far? It will now go to the House of Representatives in Ohio.
To view the bill, click this article I wrote on how to without using one of those pay websites.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center is a great site for victims and survivors of sexual abuse to find information.
Not sure what constitutes sexual abuse? Read my article about sex abuse here.