The case is State v. Goode, 2013-Ohio-556.
According to media coverage the Defendant spoke to a 13 year old girl while she was walking home from the library where he worked in 2011. The 37-year-old Defendant allegedly asked her name so they could be “secret friends” on Facebook.
The Defendant was convicted of child enticement. R.C. 2905.05.
The court of appeals found that the statute is unconstitutionally overbroad. A statute is unconstitutionally overbroad if it “its potential application reaches a significant amount of protected activity.”
The child enticing statute provides:
No person, by any means and without privilege to do so, shall knowingly solicit, coax, entice, or lure any child under fourteen years of age to accompany the person in any manner, including entering into any vehicle or onto any vessel, whether or not the offender knows the age of the child, if both of the following apply: (1) The actor does not have the express or implied permission of the parent, guardian, or other legal custodian of the child in undertaking the activity. (2) The actor is not a law enforcement officer, medic, firefighter, or other person who regularly provides emergency services, and is not an employee or agent of, or a volunteer acting under the direction of, any board of education, or the actor is any of such persons, but, at the time the actor undertakes the activity, the actor is not acting within the scope of the actor’s lawful duties in that capacity.
The court noted that the statute “Undoubtedly . . . has an admirable purpose, which is to prevent child abductions or the commission of lewd acts with children.” However, innocent and non-criminal activity could be swept in by the statute. The court gave an example: “parents picking up their child from school would theoretically violate R.C. 2905.05(A) merely by asking their child’s friend if he or she wanted a ride home.”
The problem with the state is that there is “no requirement that a person have ill-intent when asking the child to accompany” the person. The statute thus criminalized “very basic societal interactions.”
The court concluded that enforcement in a selective manner by police and prosecutors did not save the statute. “Even if the statute did grant the police the discretion to determine what was illegal and what was legal, similar grants of discretion to police officers have consistently been found to be unconstitutional.”