CINCINNATI -- A Springfield Township man filed a federal lawsuit challenging Ohio’s sex offender parole law as unconstitutional because it forbids him from seeing his 14-year-old son.
The Ohio Justice and Policy Center filed the lawsuit on Wednesday on behalf of a 50-year-old former high school teacher who is listed as John Doe in court filings.
In 2014, Doe was convicted of two counts of gross sexual imposition involving an 18-year-old female student at the school where he taught. He has no other criminal history, according to the lawsuit.
Doe served a three-year prison term and had regular visits with wife and his son. The family spoke on the phone nearly every day and sent letters and emails.
Now that Doe is out of prison, he is forbidden from moving back to the family home or having any contact with his son. He could not send his son a card or call him on his 14th birthday. He is not allowed to possess his son’s photograph, the lawsuit stated.
“Mr. Doe’s conviction made him subject to five mandatory years of what is known in Ohio as post-release control,” the lawsuit stated. “Though his offense did not involve a minor, the conditions of Mr. Doe’s PRC include a full prohibition on contact with any minors without the permission of his supervising officer.”
Now Doe is asking U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett for a temporary restraining order that would stop parole officers from enforcing the law, and allow him to live with his wife and son in their Forest Park home.
“Mr. Doe has no history of abusing his son and poses no risk to him … his son will be eighteen -- college-aged -- by the time his father is allowed to speak with him on the phone, send him a letter, or give him a hug as he did while in prison,” the lawsuit stated.
Doe is also at risk of getting a divorce from his wife of 26 years because he cannot live in the same house as his son.
“Mrs. Doe has been forced to choose between spending time with her husband … and devoting attention to her son … She feels guilty spending nights away from her son, so she does not stay overnight at Mr. Doe’s residence,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. and Mrs. Doe love each other, but Mrs. Doe is considering divorce because Mr. Doe cannot live with her or help her raise their child.”
Doe filed the lawsuit against his parole officer and parole supervisor, and a regional administrator at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s adult parole authority office in Cincinnati.
In order to see his son, a parole officer told Doe that he must apply for a visit “in a controlled setting” that is supervised by a parole officer at Doe’s financial expense. Doe is unemployed and struggling financially. And during the visit, he would not be allowed to embrace his child as he could in prison, the lawsuit stated.
His parole officer would not allow Doe's brother, a licensed social worker, to supervise weekly visits with his son. As a result, Doe has not seen his son for more than six months.
“Mr. Doe’s family has been torn apart as a result of his absence," the lawsuit states. "His son misses his father and is suffering from anxiety because of the hardship caused by Mr. Doe’s absence."
The lawsuit claims that parole officers have deprived Doe of his fundamental right to parent his son and have a spousal relationship as well as violated his right to due process.