Fairfield father fights to change sex offender law

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

FAIRFIELD, OH (FOX19)  - Some neighbors of sex offenders don't have to alert their neighbors of their presence. That's if the offenders live in a nursing home. One Fairfield father found out about this law the hard way.

FOX19 will only use the father's first name, Ray, to conceal his daughter's identity. Ray said he found out a sex offender lived in the room right next door to his 18-year old mentally disabled daughter only after he says that sex offender raped her.

"I said, "What's wrong?'" Ray remembered. "My daughter says "I got raped."

They're three words that have forever changed the lives of Ray and his wife.

Ray said nearly two weeks after the family moved his daughter to a long-term care facility in Cincinnati, Rickey Smith raped her.

Smith was convicted. He served two years in prison. Smith now lives in a different Cincinnati group home. Ray said he still carries the pain with him every day, in every thought, even in everything he wears. He told us why he was wearing a bright pink tie.

"It's short because it shortened my daughter's life after she got raped," Ray said. "It's pink because of my daughter is a woman. Pink is the color. I'm a fighter."

Ray is now fighting to keep others safe.

Ohio law states people who live within 1,000 feet of a convicted felon must be notified, but the law doesn't apply to nursing homes.

For instance, we checked Ohio's Electronic Sex Offender Registry. It listed 14 sex offenders with the same address: 2420 Harrison Avenue, Greystone Nursing Home. We called nursing home officials to confirm, but they directed us to a corporate spokesman who did not return our calls Friday.

State Representative Courtney Combs (R- 34th District) said he's working to change the law.

"This bill requires they post at the entrance sex offenders live here," Combs said. "Where they're at and who they are."

Combs introduced his bill in 2008. It passed the House, but died in the Senate. Combs is trying it again this year. This time, with help from a State Senator who introduced her version of the bill earlier this week.

"If you want to take these sex offenders in," Combs said. "Build a facility for them. I have no problem with that. Put them in there together. That's fine with me. I have no problem with that. But don't put them in with grandma. In a room right next to hers."

Ray said his daughter now lives in a different group home upstate and is doing well. Ray also warns others you have the right to ask nursing homes if sex offenders live there.

A victim's advocacy organization known as "A Perfect Cause" suggests families ask nursing home officials questions to ensure their loved one's safety, including:

  • Do you have any sex offenders living in this facility?
  • Will you allow sex offenders to live in this facility in the future?
  • Do you have any prison parolees or inmates living in this facility?
  • Do you have any violent offenders found incompetent to stand trial living in this facility?

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