Criminal enticement charge dismissed as unconstitutional

LISBON – A decision by Judge Carol Robb last week to dismiss a criminal enticement charge against a Salem man was based on the current law being deemed unconstitutional.

Both the First District Court of Appeals and the Ninth District Court of Appeals determined the current statute to be too broad. Robb noted a parent simply giving a ride to their child’s classmate by the current law could have been charged with child enticement.

In the Ohio House and in the Ohio Senate bills introduced this year would both change the law to state luring or inviting the child under 14 into the vehicle must be done “for an unlawful purpose” in order for child enticement to be charged. The bills are HB 122 introduced in April and SB 64 introduced in March. Sexual motivation remains listed as one possible reason for the charge to be filed in the two bills.

The current status of the law has left prosecutors in courts, including in Columbiana County Municipal Court, unable to prosecute the cases at this point. Hence on April 29, Assistant County Prosecutor Megan Payne filed a motion to dismiss without prejudice the child enticement charge against Steven M. Lutz, 42, East Third Street, Salem. In her motion, Payne asked the costs to be taxed against the State of Ohio.

Robb agreed to the dismissal on the day before the case was scheduled to go to trial.

However, the wording without prejudice and having costs taxed to the state would allow prosecutors to refile the case in the future if legislators are able to improve upon the law and the alleged crime still qualified.

Lutz had been accused of picking up a 9-year-old boy, who had been walking home from school in March 2012. Lutz reportedly gave the boy a ride home. The boy had reportedly met Lutz earlier in the week, although the boy had not known his name. The parents also had reported Lutz did not have permission to give their child a ride.

An unrelated second charge against Lutz of telephone harassment was dismissed this year after court documents state the victim in the matter was unavailable.