Saturday, August 14, 1999

Quirk in sex law: No car means felony charge

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When David Swanson was accused of trying to lure a child into the woods, prosecutors figured they would try to send him to jail for a few months on a minor criminal charge.

        Instead, they will work for a conviction and a sentence to keep him in prison for 16 years.

        The change came when prosecutors realized that a quirk in Ohio law would prevent them from charging the Cincinnati man with a misdemeanor.

        Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said the misdemeanor — criminal child enticement — does not apply because Mr. Swanson was not in a car when he allegedly tried to lure the 11-year-old girl on Sunday.

        “The law says he has to entice her into a car,” Mr. Allen said. “It's kind of strange.”

        Mr. Allen said his staff turned to their law books. What they found, he said, was the felony charge of attempted kidnapping.

        Mr. Swanson, 40, was indicted on two counts of the charge Friday. Each count carries a maximum sentence of eight years.

        If Mr. Swanson is convicted, a judge also would have the option to declare him a sexually violent predator.

        Mr. Allen said proving Mr. Swanson attempted to kidnap the girl will be more difficult than proving the misdemeanor. “We feel it's appropriate,” he said, “but it's going to be a tough case.”

        He said he may ask the Ohio legislature to revise the child enticement law so it can be used in more cases.


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