Anthony Sowell was re-classified two years ago from a low-level sex offender grouping and lumped into a category befitting the most serious sexual predators in Ohio, under a change in state law.
But because of that same new law, not one neighbor of the accused serial murderer and rapist was ever warned that Sowell had been deemed more dangerous in the state’s eyes as a Tier III sex offender.
And even if he had moved from his Imperial Avenue home, where the decayed bodies of 11 women were found last fall, Sowell may have been able to block the county sheriff from notifying anyone of his new address even though that is required for some Tier III offenders.
State Sen. Shirley Smith, a Cleveland Democrat, is introducing a bill next week that would close both of those loopholes in Ohio’s sex offender rules, which were exposed after murder charges were filed against Sowell.
“The first problem let Sowell continue living in his home without the community being notified about his Tier III sex offender status,” Smith said. “The second discrepancy would have given Sowell some impunity if he had decided to move.”
Sowell is also accused of raping or attacking several other women. He was arrested last fall. Investigators believe some of the bodies found hidden in his house or buried in the yard might have been there since 2005, about the time Sowell was released from prison after serving 15 years for attempted rape.
It was that 1989 attempted rape conviction that landed Sowell on Ohio’s sex offender registry when he was released.
Smith’s bill has already won support from Cuyahoga County Sheriff Bob Reid and the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association. It is the local sheriffs who collect information on sex offenders for the state’s registry and enforce the law.
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Article courtesy cnn.com