COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Lawmakers at the Ohio Statehouse are taking another look at child enticement laws.
While lawmakers can agree that a fix to the law is necessary, some said the way it is being drafted creates more problems than solutions.
Nearly 10 years ago, a portion of Ohio’s child enticement laws were ruled unconstitutional. The law has three main parts; the first part states no person should solicit or entice a child to accompany them in any manner. The second is an increased penalty for sexual motivation, and the third says for any unlawful purposes.
The first part was said to be too broad by the Supreme Court.
Ohio Rep. Richard Dell’Aquila (D-Seven Hills) is sponsoring House Bill 148, saying he worked with a law director and prosecutor to tighten the language, moving the portion about sexual motivations to the beginning of the statute.
“The fact that section B does say any other unlawful act, whether standing alone or in combination, is also a violation, covers that contingency without having to make the exceptions that really aren’t exceptions if you read the statute closely enough,” Dell’Aquila said
Ohio Rep. Josh Williams (R-Oregon), vice-chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, worries about making sexual motivation the main part of the statute.
“Simply add a few words to the A section, the main section, to make it where no person, with unlawful purpose, shall entice, coerce,” Williams said. “It is a very simple solution to make it where you can’t try to lure a child with an unlawful purpose.”
The bill has not yet had its first committee hearing but is assigned to the House Criminal Justice Committee. Williams said he will be offering an amendment when it comes up for a hearing.
“The day that it appears in my committee, I will be introducing an amendment to revert it back to the way it was, with a few added pieces of language that will make it clear that attempting to coerce a child without parental consent is a criminal offense,” Williams said.
Dell’Aquila said he is open to the conversation about amending the bill.
“If there are other opinions that can help to restore that statute to constitutional compliance, then we want to get there,” Dell’Aquila said. “I can’t imagine that something as important as this would not result in us finding a way to put together language that everyone can live with and understands.”
Dell’Aquila said there are several people who are planning to testify on the importance of the legislation at a future hearing.