GREENE CO. — A proposed change to the sex offender registry in Ohio has one family in Greene County hoping lawmakers will listen to their story when considering the change.
News Center 7’s Natalie Jovonovich talked with Jennah and Josh Strader, a couple who first met as teenagers in a Clark County high school. Jennah was a 14-year-old freshman, and Josh was a 19-year-old senior who met through friends.
Josh was forced to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years after Jennah became pregnant during their relationship in high school.
“We were both very confused about what was going on,” Jennah said. “Our parents were in agreeance with what was going on, we were both consenting, so we just thought it would end up being nothing.”
The couple is married now and has three children together, but said Josh’s registration as a sex offender has negatively impacted his relationship with his family.
The Straders said Josh’s classification as a sex offender has prevented him from getting jobs, housing, and even visiting his daughter’s school.
“They can’t wrap their mind around somebody who’s on the registry who never hurt anybody, who never sexually assaulted somebody,” she said. “They just automatically go to oh he’s a child molester or he’s a rapist. They don’t think oh we were young kids and we made a bad decision and now we’re paying for it.”
The proposed changes would allow older offenders to be removed from the registry, and would take off some who have shown they’re not a threat. If the changes were to pass, Jennah said the lives of their family members would change drastically for the better.
“He’s been on the registry for almost ten years now, and has had good behavior, I don’t see why they would prevent him from getting off the registry if this were to pass,” Jennah said.
The state commission is expected to vote on the proposed changes when sessions resume next year, and the Straders hope lawmakers hear their story.
“It doesn’t change our love story, our relationship, I wouldn’t take back any of our kids. I just wish it would’ve ended up a bit differently because it does affect our life so much.”