Child enticement charges dropped against Virginia sex offender over technicality

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WORTHINGTON, OH (WCMH) – A case of alleged child enticement in Worthington, Ohio has exposed a gaping hole in that state’s laws.

Charges against 25-year-old Jonathan Ringel were dismissed Wednesday morning in Franklin County Municipal Court after prosecutors determined the section of Ohio Revised Code cited for the arrest had been ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2014.

Worthington police arrested Ringel this week after a series of reported attempts to lure young children into a car. A witness to one of the incidents provided police with a license plate number.

Lt. Mike Holton says detectives were unaware of the Supreme Court ruling. “It’s still on the books, hasn’t been repealed, hasn’t been amended, hasn’t been changed.,” Holton said. “So it’s still a good charge according to Ohio Revised Code.”

State Senator Kevin Bacon said the case puts a spotlight on the gap created by the Supreme Court ruling. “At least we know about it now and we can go forward and fix it to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

While the child enticement charges were dismissed, Ringel, a registered sex offender, remains in custody.

Ringel was convicted in Rockingham County, Virginia on charges of possession of child pornography and taking indecent liberties with minors in 2014. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison but was released after two and half years. His parole was transferred to Ohio to allow him to return to his home.

The Ohio Adult Parole Authority has placed a detainer on Ringel to keep him in custody while they investigate whether he has violated the conditions of his parole. If violations are confirmed, Ringel could be returned to prison in Virginia.

The Supreme Court Ruling in 2014 found that a section of the child enticement law was overly broad and risked including legal activity within the definition of enticement.

Justice Judith Lanzinger wrote the majority opinion and pointed out that the way the law was written, a primary-school coach offering to drive a team member home to get a forgotten piece of equipment or a senior citizen offering a 13-year-old neighborhood child money to help with a household chore could be charged with criminal enticement.

Lt. Holton says it just needs to get fixed. “It’s a little disconcerting that an individual can go out and have contact with underage children who they don’t even know and ask them to leave with them and ask them to get into their vehicle and there’s not a whole lot legally at this point that we can do,” Holton said.

Image courtesy of WCMH

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