Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

State Law Cannot Be Applied Retroactively to Keep Sex Offender from Living Near School

The 7th District Court of Appeals has sided with a lower court that state law cannot be applied retroactively to stop a convicted sex offender from living near a Belmont County school.

Ray Benedetta was convicted in 2001 of attempting to compel prostitution and was required to report his residence for 10 years as a sexually oriented offender. A few days after his reporting requirement ended in 2012, he moved into a house within 1,000 feet of Shadyside High School that he had a vested interest in before his criminal case. Soon after that, the county prosecutor sought a permanent injunction to keep Benedetta from living there.

Appeals Court Judge Cheryl L. Waite wrote in the 3-0 decision that the Belmont County Common Pleas Court was correct when it denied the injunction because the state law cited by the prosecutor cannot be applied retroactively under a 2011 Ohio Supreme Court case.

“R.C. 2950.034 was held to be unconstitutionally retroactive [State v. Williams, 2011-Ohio-3374] as applied to offenders like Appellee who committed their crimes before the enactment of the statute,” Judge Waite stated. “Ohio's appellate courts are in agreement that the 1,000-foot prohibition created in 2003 by R.C. 2950.031 cannot be applied to a defendant who committed his offense prior to the effective date of the statute, regardless of the time that defendant may have acquired his property interest or began living in the residence.”

Judge Waite also denied the prosecutor’s argument that in State v. Byers, the 7th District Court of Appeals ruled the state law was enforceable and could be applied retroactively: “Our Byers opinion is factually distinct and has effectively been overruled by the Ohio Supreme Court, and does not support Appellant's argument.”

Judges Gene Donofrio and Joseph J. Vukovich joined Judge Waite in the ruling.

State v. Benedetta, 2013-Ohio-4364
Appeal From: Belmont County Court of Common Pleas
Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: September 26, 2013

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