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City may ban sex offenders from rec center

SHARONVILLE, Ohio (Angenette Levy) -- City officials have drafted an ordinance that would ban sex offenders from the community's recreation center.

Safety Services Director James Lukas said Brunswick, Ohio near Akron approved a similar ordinance in 2012 when he was the city manager there.

"We're looking at this as a proactive measure not having to wait until an incident happens,"  Lukas said.

If city council approves the ordinance any sex offender who is a member of the community center would have his or her membership rescinded and their money refunded. New members would be screened using the Ohio Sex Offender Registry.

Amber Bonderhaar has been a member of the center for years and supports the ban.
"I think it's a great idea. I like to know that my daughter will be safe and I think it helps me put myself at ease," Bonderhaar said.

But Dr. Stuart Bassman, who's counseled sex offenders and victims of sexual abuse called the proposed ordinance "over the top."

"It concerns me when people are determining the policy of a community and are reacting out of anger and fear," Dr. Bassman said.

Dr. Bassman believes educating children about unhealthy behavior by adults is more effective in preventing abuse. He believes the ban sends the wrong message.

"It's basically making a point to our youth that people cannot change. That people in a sense need to be always seen as dangerous," Dr. Bassman said.

Meanwhile, James Lukas believes the ban will go a long way in keeping adults and children safe.

"It's a balancing act. Do you put the interest of children above the interests of a sex offender?"

Lukas said he's aware of one sex offender who is a member of the community center. Local 12 News checked and there are six registered sex offenders in Sharonville.  One public reading of the ordinance has taken place. The ordinance will be read two more times before the full council votes on it next month.

Sharonville is believed to be the first city in the Cincinnati area to consider such a ban.  Dublin near Columbus has a similar ban as does Middleburg Heights near Cleveland.

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