New Richmond residents want to know why sex offender lives near day care

By Sara Gouedy - bio | email

NEW RICHMOND, OH (FOX19) -- Angry neighbors in New Richmond are questioning how close a registered sex offender lives to a daycare center.

The owner of an ice cream parlor on Front St. isn't talking on camera about James Ritchie, a registered sex offender who lives in an apartment above her business.

Not everyone is happy about it, and plenty of other people are talking.

"I don't have a beef with him personally, I just think that the system has failed," said Kellie Painter, who runs the daycare that is just steps away from Ritchie's apartment. "I didn't know that was permitted, I thought the law covered that anyone convicted of that offense couldn't live anywhere near a daycare or school."

Ohio Senate Bill 10 does have that requirement, but not for Ritchie's case. There's nothing in these laws that says Ritchie can't be because of the date of his offense, so that means he's free to walk, eat, sleep, and live on Front Street.

"Unfortunately this guy's conviction date was so far in the past that he's not required to abide by those restrictions so he can basically, legally, live anywhere he wants to," said Dave Willoughby, New Richmond chief of police.

Willougbhy says his office received more than 40 calls in the last two weeks about Ritchie.

"People typically haven't been upset or lashed out at us, but they are upset and they want to know what they can do," said Willoughby.

Willoughby says the uproar is bad enough to host a town hall meeting, one he's letting people know will happen Thursday night.

Painter says the town hall meeting's a first step, and she has words for Ohio lawmakers.

"I feel like they've created a giant loop hole," she said.

James Ritchie has been compliant with the sex offender laws. Police say he has registered with them, and notified them of where he's living. New Richmond police also said there have not been complaints that they can find about him since his conviction for rape.