CINCINNATI — A Springfield Township man is challenging Ohio’s sex offender parole law as unconstitutional because it forbids him from seeing his 14-year-old son, having a Skype phone call or possessing a family photo.
“I was actually closer to him when I was in prison because I could talk to him more,” the 50-year-old former high school teacher, who is listed as John Doe in court filings, testified in U.S. District Court on Monday.
He is seeking 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.
The Ohio Justice and Policy Center filed the lawsuit on Doe’s behalf in July.
Doe served a three-year prison term and had regular visits with wife and his son during that time. The family spoke on the phone nearly every day and sent letters and emails, Doe testified.
Now that Doe is out of prison, he is forbidden from moving back to the family home or having any contact with his son that is not approved and supervised by the probation office. He is not allowed to possess his son’s photograph and lives with his elderly parents in Springfield Township.
Doe's conviction made him subject to five mandatory years of post-release control. As a special condition, he is prohibited from contact with any minors without the permission of his supervising probation officer.
“This case before the court today is about family,” James Duncan of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center said Monday. “This special condition wrongly assumes that Mr. Doe is a danger to his own son.”
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.
The woman had developmental disabilities and an IQ of 70. Christina Mahy of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office suggested Doe groomed her for years.
He taught her in class for several years, was her chess club coach, gave her rides to school and events, and then, when she was 18, had sexual relations with her in a high school maintenance room.
“Today’s case is not about family, it’s about community safety,” said Byron Turner of the Ohio Attorney General’s office. “Mr. Doe committed a crime … and there are consequences.”
Attorneys for the parole officers say Doe needs to be closely monitored now that he’s back in the community.
“Post-release control conditions are to ensure community safety,” Turner said. “While his victim may have been 18, she was a student at a high school.”
Doe testified that he has only seen his son for 12 hours during the past year and that several visitation requests were denied.
Susan Ullman, a clinical social worker who specializes in sex offenders, testified that Doe “is considered to be a very low risk to re-offend,” and that any threat to his son is “almost nil.”
After Monday’s court hearing, U.S. Magistrate Karen Litkovitz will issue a recommendation on whether to issue a temporary restraining order. The final decision is up to U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett.