Many schools, few places for sex offenders to live

SANDUSKY With 31 school buildings in Erie County, the places a registered offender may legally reside may be few and far betw
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



With 31 school buildings in Erie County, the places a registered offender may legally reside may be few and far between.

Many of the schools are located in the heart of Sandusky, making living in the area difficult for sex offenders who are required by law to reside at least 1,000 feet from any school premises.

"A good address for a registered sex offender is if they were to move far on the west end or the east end (of Sandusky)," said Capt. Steven Westcott of the Erie County Sheriff's office.

But other towns, such as Huron and Vermilion, also have multiple school buildings.

Despite what may seem to be a limiting law, Westcott, who keeps track of registered sex offenders in the county, said he hasn't received calls from offenders arguing the 1,000-foot law.

"I find they try to remain compliant if they can," he said. "They know what they have to do and their responsibilities and duties."

More often sex offenders call to make sure where they are moving is far enough away from school grounds, he said.

"If they are going to move, they want to make sure they are going to a good address," Westcott said.

Any part of school property counts toward the 1,000-foot marker, Westcott said, adding that the point of measurement used by the Sheriff's office is from property line to property line -- not from address to address.

The law is based on the premise that children are at schools, and that is "enticement to re-offend," said Mary Ann Barylski, assistant county prosecutor.

"A lot of them want to be in their old neighborhood, but too bad -- you can't," she said.

Other common calls made to the office by the nearly 150 offenders in the county include reporting changes in places of employment or new vehicles, he said.

While three county sex offenders fail to abide by law and continue to live by schools, Westcott said he has received no complaints regarding them.

But there are numerous other calls.

"I receive complaints on sex offenders daily," Westcott said. "It can be anything and everything."

Complaints range from an offender's alleged change of address to a complaint of an inaccurate height for an offender on the sheriff's office Web site, he said.

Registered offenders will sometimes give addresses at which they don't physically reside, Westcott said. Then an acquaintance may call and report the law-breaker.

Sex offenders not abiding by law:

* James Fitzpatrick, 40, 600 block of Decatur St., has filed a motion to stay at his residence citing living in the residence prior to when the law was passed.

* Gerald Younce, 79, 1200 block of Third St., also filed a motion with the same argument as Fitzpatrick.

* Dupri Mills, 36, 1200 block of W. Monroe St., has told county prosecutors his home is more than 1,000 feet from Madison Elementary School in Sandusky.

* All three men have civil lawsuits filed against them in Erie County Common Pleas Court. The validity of their arguments will be determined by a judge.

School districts in Erie County

District No. of school buildings

* Sandusky Schools : 9

* Perkins Township : 4

* Sandusky Central Catholic Schools : 3

* Huron Schools : 3

* Berlin-Milan Schools : 4

* Kelleys Island : 1

* Margaretta Schools : 3

* Vermilion Schools : 4

Total : 31

Source: Ohio Educational Directory