'Easier for Evil People To Commit Crimes': Ohio Dems Push To Amend State's 'Child Enticement' Laws

Critics say Dem bill would effectively legalize luring children into strangers' cars

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May 3, 2023

Democratic lawmakers in Ohio are pushing for a legislative change that would decriminalize luring children into a vehicle unless the state can prove that the child was lured "with a sexual motivation."

A bill cosponsored by a quarter of Democrats in Ohio's lower chamber would amend the state's criminal code "to require that a person act with a sexual motivation to commit the offense of criminal child enticement." The proposed change not only puts a new burden on prosecutors to prove sexual motivation, but it also removes a provision stating that adults must have permission of a child's parent or guardian to entice the child into a vehicle.

The proposal has turned heads in the legislature's Criminal Justice Committee, which is now considering the bill. "I am shocked and appalled by this legislation, and I can't believe any of the eight Democrat cosponsors of this bill actually read it before endorsing it," said Josh Williams, a Republican who is the committee's vice chairman.

Williams said the additional requirement that the state prove "sexual motivation" to convict will make the statute far "more difficult to prosecute" and effectively legalize attempted child abduction.

It is unlikely the bill will become law—Republicans control vast majorities in both chambers of Ohio's legislature. The state, once known as the ultimate bellwether, hasn't been politically competitive for several cycles. It has voted Republican for president since 2016 and has a Republican governor and U.S. senator.

There is a consensus that the state's enticement law is in need of amending—the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that it is unconstitutionally broad and can no longer be enforced.

"This legislation stems from our local law enforcement being unable to enforce existing criminal child enticement law because of the ruling on this statute," Richard Dell'Aquila, a Democrat who is the lead sponsor, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Williams, however, questions the decision by Democrats to narrow the statute by taking out the requirement that adults have permission of a child's parents before luring the child into a car.

"Make no mistake about it: This legislation would make it easier for evil people to commit crimes," the Republican said. "It is not criminal justice reform."

"I look forward to working with members of the Criminal Justice Committee to update Ohio's child enticement laws without eliminating a parent's right to press criminal charges against those attempting to prey on children," Williams said.