Vindicator Logo

MAHONING VALLEY Is a sex offender living near you? Check the lists

By Patricia Meade

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The state's Web site at has links to sheriffs' departments.
YOUNGSTOWN -- They live among us.
Some have raped, some were garden-variety peeping Toms, some supplied obscene material to kids.
Some may do it again.
If you want to know if a sex offender lives in your neighborhood, go to the Web site of Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro at Click on sex offender search and you'll find eSORN, electronic sex offender registration and notification.
The new site has a database of registered sex offenders culled from sheriffs' departments Web sites across the state. The offenders, roughly 350 in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, are listed alphabetically, along with their address and, in most cases, a photograph.
Some Macintosh computer users without Windows may have difficulty accessing certain sections of the site. For those without a computer, sex offender lists are available for review at sheriffs' departments.
Sheriffs statewide are responsible for maintaining a roster of their county's sex offenders -- once a judge has labeled them as such. The men and women register at their local sheriff's department after being released from prison or when placed on probation at sentencing.
In Trumbull County, once a sex offender signs in, a detective travels to the address to verify it, said Matthew Ecker, jail administrator.
"It doesn't make sense to just take their word for it," Ecker said.
Mahoning County verifies addresses on occasion, said Detective Charles Emery. Columbiana County verifies sexual predators' addresses only, said Commander Daniel MacLean.
Ecker said predators must check in at the sheriff's department every 90 days for life. Habitual offenders register annually for 20 years and sexually oriented offenders register annually for 10 years.
The law requires that community notification, done by letter, be given to the police chief and those living or attending school within 1,000 feet of a sexual predator or habitual offender, Ecker said. Community notification of sexually oriented offenders' addresses is not required.
Judges determine in which category to place the lawbreaker.
Ecker said to help simplify the process of finding out who lives near sex offenders in Trumbull County, a tax map that pinpoints water mains is used. Such maps outline who lives in the neighborhood and would be affected by a break in the water main, he said.
How this works
By finding the sexual predator's residence on the map, and treating the location as if it were the site of a water-main break, the sheriff's department can identify who is affected and must be notified, Ecker said.
Ecker said school superintendents in the community in which the offender has settled are notified even if the person lives farther than 1,000 feet away from a school. School officials then notify parents. Notification also goes out to day care centers (adult and child), beauty and barber schools and children services boards, he said.
"We get an immediate spike in phone calls once the notification goes out," the jail administrator said. "I think eSORN will help. That was the intent of it, public safety."
Maj. Michael Budd at the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department agreed with Ecker, saying eSORN is a great information resource, a step in the right direction. He said the notification letter has the Web site, which allows parents to download the sex offender's photo if they wish.
Emery, who registers Mahoning County sex offenders, said they must tell him whenever their circumstances change, whether it's a new job, car, phone number or residence. Those who fail to comply can face a low-level felony charge, he said.
Emery said information is double-checked through the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. He said every effort is made to ensure the information on the Web site is accurate, but errors do occur.
Recently, for example, the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department Web site lacked addresses for two men, a question mark (?) as part of an address and another address that could have been Youngstown, Poland or Lowellville.
Budd said prisons will notify the sheriff's department about a month before an inmate is to be released. Deputies work closely with Ohio Adult Parole Authority officers to keep track of sex offenders, he said.