FOX19 Investigates: Sex offenders in local nursing homes

FOX19 Investigates: Sex offenders in local nursing homes
Published: Nov. 10, 2014 at 9:08 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2014 at 2:03 PM EST
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - If your loved one resides in a local nursing or rehabilitation facility, they may be living with a sex offender and not know it.

A new Ohio state law now requires nursing and residential care facilities to screen for registered sex offenders. If the search identifies the individual as a registered sex offender and the person is admitted to the facility, administrators must also develop a plan of care to protect other residents' rights, notify all other residents and their loved ones that a sex offender has been admitted and direct the individual in updating their address in the Ohio state internet-based sex offender registry. The law took effect September 15, 2014.

Ohio House Bill 483, Section 3721.122 added to Ohio Revised Code:

Sec. 3721.122. Before an individual is admitted as a resident to a home, the home's administrator shall search for the individual's name in the internet-based sex offender and child-victim offender database established under division (A)(11) of section 2950.13 of the Revised Code. If the search results identify the individual as a sex offender and the individual is admitted as a resident to the home, the administrator shall provide for the home to do all of the following:

(A) Develop a plan of care to protect the other residents' rights to a safe environment and to be free from abuse;

(B) Notify all of the home's other residents and their sponsors that a sex offender has been admitted as a resident to the home and include in the notice a description of the plan of care developed under division (A) of this section;

(C) Direct the individual in updating the individual's address under section 2950.05 of the Revised Code and, if the individual is unable to do so without assistance, provide the assistance the individual needs to update the individual's address under that section.

Click here to read the full text of the bill.

The new requirements only apply to sex offenders admitted on or after September 15. The law does not address sex offenders living at facilities prior to that date.

For years, the old state law required local sheriffs to notify anyone living within 1,000 feet of a sex offender, but an unintended loophole did not require administrators of long-term care facilities to notify residents and their sponsors when a sex offender was admitted.

FOX19 Investigates searched the Ohio state sex offender registry and identified 17 sex offenders with addresses listed as nursing and rehabilitation homes in the Cincinnati area. The registry does not specify when the address became effective or how long the individual has lived there.

We showed photos of sex offenders with registered addresses listed as nursing homes to residents and family members of some of the facilities. At one Cincinnati nursing home, one man told us they recognized one of the sex offender photo as a fellow resident.

“I got nieces and nephews that come in here, that are underage,” said resident David Wallace. “I think that's something that needs to be looked into.”

“Shocked, little scared, shocked," said Sonja Tinker, a resident at another Cincinnati nursing facility, listed as the home address for several sex offenders on the state database. Tinker was concerned the new law does not include notification of sex offenders admitted prior to September 15, 2014.

“Just because they've already been there, they came the day before that, you know, you don't know," Tinker said.

The Ohio Attorney General's office maintains the state registry as a public service tool. According to information on the state database, a sex offender is required to register annually with law enforcement. Attorney General Mike DeWine said the new law is a significant step in addressing the loophole in the old law.

“The way the law was written September 15th is the day," De Wine said. “I would say most laws are not retroactive, I think it's an exception to make a law retroactive. Could they have done it? I don't see why they couldn't have done it, but that's not what the law says."

We contacted the Cincinnati-area nursing homes sex offenders listed as home addresses on the state registry. All of them said they are aware of the new law and are in full compliance.

Want to find out if you or a loved one lives near a sex offender? Click here to check the state database.

Disclaimer: This database is independently maintained by local Sheriff's offices, and relies on self-reporting. The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office website says it does not guarantee that all information is accurate.

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