COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohioans can now see whether phone numbers, email addresses or screen names belong to registered sex offenders under a new feature added to the state’s online database, the state’s attorney general said today.
The sex offender registry lists residents convicted of sex crimes and labeled sex offenders. The public can search the database by name or location to find offenders.
The registry’s new reverse-lookup feature lets people input phone numbers, email addresses or online screen names used for video games or social media to see whether a registered sex offender has contacted them.
If the information matches an offender, the searcher will be told to immediately contact their county sheriff’s office or the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. It does not display the offender’s name. It would be up to the local sheriff to decide how to proceed.
Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the change at a news conference in Columbus with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association. Only seven other states have the lookup feature, he said.
DeWine acknowledged the search has pitfalls. For instance, offenders could lie about their online information or change their email addresses or screen names.