Derek Logue is a member of one of the few groups it is socially acceptable for people to openly hate. He knows online comments on this story will likely refer to him in the most vulgar terms, and no one will come to his defense.
But Logue said people like him are being unfairly discriminated against, and he thinks something should be done about it.
Logue is one of 17,236 adult registered sex offenders in Ohio, a group whose criminal histories are accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
Offenders must list with the local sheriff’s office the addresses of where they live, work, volunteer and go to school — information, along with their photograph, that is put into an online database. Depending on the severity of their crimes, they have to register between once a year for 15 years or — in the most serious cases — every 90 days for life.
Many also face restrictions on living too close to a school or daycare.
‘I served my time’
While some people have called for more public notification and oversight of offenders, Logue believes the entire registry should be taken down.
“The registry destroys lives,” said Logue, who will spend the rest of his life on the registry. “It has destroyed my life.”
Logue was convicted in Alabama in 2001 of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl when he was 22, and spent three years in prison. When he was released, he moved to Cincinnati and was required by the state of Ohio to register as a “predator.”
Logue unsuccessfully challenged that designation in court, saying it is a higher label than Alabama considered his offense.
“I committed a crime. I served my time,” he said. “It’s one of those things you certainly regret and wish you could take back.”
Logue said the registry attaches an unfair label on individuals.
“If you’re a registered person people assume you’re a pedophile, that you’re a predator, that you’re just going to rape and molest at the first opportunity,” he said. “And that’s simply untrue.”
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Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser doesn’t have much sympathy for Logue’s argument, saying public distrust “is the price people pay when they commit crimes.”
“We need to track these people,” he said. “I think the sex offender registry is absolutely essential and something that perhaps a sex offender should’ve thought about before he engaged in something he presumably knew was illegal and against all social norms.”
But Logue said the harm done by the registry goes beyond public embarrassment. Because his home address is listed on a publicly searchable database, he said he faces danger every time he walks out his front door or rides his bike to the grocery store.
“It’s a very real possibility,” he said of someone taking it upon themselves to do him harm.
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Forced to move
Logue is sitting in an armchair of his ramshackle apartment in northern Cincinnati a few yards from a railroad line that routinely shakes the building as trains go by.
He considers himself lucky to have a place to live. He has been homeless. He was previously forced to move because his apartment at the time was too close to a vocational school. He said it once took him 130 phone calls over seven months to find a landlord willing to rent to him.
“I would call and ask if they’d take me. I would get not just a ‘No’,” but ‘Aw, hell no!’”
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He said he is on disability because of depression and anxiety.
“The day I got my disability was one of the happiest days of my life,” said Logue, who has a bachelor’s degree but said he could only get low-wage jobs that would never last more than a few months because customers or co-workers would see him on the registry.
“You’re only going to be (able to hold a job) until someone finds out you’re on the list and makes an issue out of it,” he said.
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Logue now runs a website advocating for reform to Ohio sex offender laws. There’s no registry for murderers, or drug dealers and gang members, he argues, so there shouldn’t be one for sex offenders who he says are statistically unlikely to re-offend.
“We’re focused so much on this public registry and we advertise it as a ‘tool’ to help people look for potential threats in society, but people do not use the registry for that purpose,” he said.
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“First of all most people don’t look at the registry, and second of all, even when they do look at the registry, they don’t look at it because they’re necessarily concerned for their public safety, they look at it because of salacious reasons.”
But Gmoser said public safety is outweighed by any inconvenience people on the registry may face.
“It’s a balancing act and I fall in favor of society that has not engaged in crime and just wants to live a peaceful, safe life in a peaceful, safe neighborhood,” he said.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: The Sex Offender Next Door: An I-Team Investigation