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Supreme Court Strikes Down Ohio's Child-Enticement Statute

March 07, 2014

The Ohio Supreme Court struck down Ohio's Child-Enticement Statute, ruling that it is unconstitutionally overbroad.  In State v. Romage Slip Opinion No. 2014-Ohio-783, the court struck down Ohio Revised Code section 2905.05(A), finding that it sweeps within its prohibitions a significant amount of constitutionally protected activity.

The statute provides:  No person, by any means and without privilege to do so, shall knowingly solicit, coax, entice, or lure any child under fourteen years of age to accompany the person in any manner, including entering into any vehicle or onto any vessel, whehter or not the offender knows the age of the child, if both of the following apply:
(1) The actor does not have express or implied permission of the parent, guardian, or other legal custodian of the child in undertaking the activity.
(2) The actor is not a law enforcement officer, medic, firefighter, or other person who regularly provides emergency services, and is not an employee or agent of, or a volunteer acting under the direction of, any board of education, or the actor is any of such persons, but, at the time the actor undertakes the activity, the actor is not acting within the scope of the actor's lawful duties in that capacity.

The court reasoned that the statute could be construed to criminalize the following scenarios, and was therefore overbroad:  "a primary-school coach offering to drive a team member home to retrieve a forgotten piece of practice equipment; a parent at a community facility offering to drive another's child home so she does not have to walk; a senior citizen offering a 13-year-old neighborhood child money to help with household chores; a 14-year-old asking his 12-year-old friend to go for a bike ride."

A link to the court's full opinion:

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