Two sex offenders filed lawsuit responses in the Erie County Common Pleas Court, arguing Ohio law might not require them to move away from school grounds.
Tim Dempsey, attorney for James Fitzpatrick, filed a motion to stay, citing a grandfather clause in Ohio law that might allow Fitzpatrick to continue living in his house. His home, in the 600 block of Decatur St., is within 1,000 feet of Jackson Junior High and Sandusky Central Catholic School campus.
Ohio law states that sex offenders must reside more than 1,000 feet from any school premises. Both Fitzpatrick and Gerald Younce failed to move and had civil lawsuits filed against them by county prosecutors in June.
Because Fitzpatrick purchased and lived in his residence before the law went into effect and before the crime was committed, he might be exempt, his motion contends.
Fitzpatrick, a former Sandusky police officer and convicted sex offender, was released early from prison in May after serving 11 months for sex crimes with a minor.
Dempsey declined to comment Monday on the motion. The Register visited Fitzpatrick's residence for comment, but no one answered the door.
In the motion, Dempsey requested the lawsuit be put on hold pending decisions on two cases in the Ohio Supreme Court regarding the law.
Fellow sex offender Younce also filed a response regarding the same matter last week. Younce, 79, was convicted of gross sexual imposition in April 2001 and resides within 1,000 feet of Ontario Elementary School.
Younce wrote a response to the summons, arguing he might be grandfathered in under the law because he has resided at his 1200 block of Third Street address for 36 years. Younce declined to comment Monday and would not name his attorney.
According to court records, Younce and his wife have their home for sale, but have not found a buyer. In addition, Younce said he tried moving into a trailer elsewhere, but did not qualify because of his record.
"My wife is 80 years old and I'll be 80 in January. We both have failing health.... At our advanced age, our failing health and limited income, it is a great hardship for us to have to move," he wrote in the response.
In his response, Younce asked for another option in the matter.
"I am not a threat to society," he wrote. "I've served my time and probation."
A third Erie County lawsuit was filed in June against sex offender Dupri Mills for not moving his residence. Mills has yet to respond, according to Mary Ann Barylski, assistant prosecutor for Erie County.
Prosecutors could not be reached Monday afternoon for comment about the sex offenders' contention their residences should be grandfathered in and they should be allowed to continue living within 1,000 feet of schools.