Ohio Legislators pass bills on child crime
Ohio legislators passed two bills on crimes against children during House and Senate sessions Wednesday, both prompted by cases from the Dayton area.
Substitute House Bill 4 now heads to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature. . Sponsored by state Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Butler Twp., it grew out of the 2019 murder of 10-year-old Takoda Collins and Dayton Daily News coverage after his death.
The other, House Bill 161, sponsored by state Rep. Brian Lampton, R-Beavercreek, is called “Jacob’s Law” in honor of Jacob Barker, killed in 2015 at age 2. It passed the House and now heads to the Senate.
HB 4 will create an ombudsman office to oversee children services; mandate that each county’s children services office create a memorandum of understanding of its obligations that the state must approve; require children services to send their reports to local, state or federal government, and follow up with whoever reported abuse or neglect; and let a juvenile court judge order an interview or investigation when a parent refuses access to a child.
Takoda died at Dayton Children’s Hospital in December 2019. Investigators say his father, Al-Mutahan McLean, tortured him for years: locking him in an attic, forcing him to stand bent over and cross-legged for long periods, and beating him. Takoda’s death was ruled a result of blunt force trauma and drowning in a bathtub.
In September 2021, McLean and his girlfriend pleaded guilty to causing Takoda’s death. Dayton police and children services implemented new policies after a Dayton Daily News investigation found inaction to earlier reports that Takoda was being abused.
Lampton said former state Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, submitted an earlier version of Jacob’s Law in 2019. Perales said then that he’d been working on it through three General Assembly sessions.
“After I was elected but before I took office, I met with then-Rep. Perales and with the family, and promised I would carry this again, just because of the horrific nature of the story,” Lampton said.
The previous bill had an appropriation attached to it, funding creation of the offender database; and it may have gotten held up in the Appropriations Committee, Lampton said.
But now passage of “Sierah’s Law” — named for 20-year-old Sierah Joughin, murdered in 2016 by a repeat violent offender in Fulton County — has already created a database of violent offenders, meaning no additional funding is needed, Lampton said.
Under HB 161, people convicted of domestic violence or permitting child abuse would be required to register on the violent offender database if they were over 18 and their victim was under age 14 when the crime was committed.
If people have doubts about someone who may be watching their family’s children, they’ll be able to check for them on the database, Lampton said. But it won’t be searchable online.
“The public will still have to actively go to their county sheriff’s department to look up a name,” he said.
Jacob died from a head injury in August 2015 while in the care of Justin Payne. In April 2016 Payne was sentenced to 16 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter, endangering children and tampering with evidence.
Payne had previously served 2½ years in prison for fracturing a baby’s skull and breaking its ribs, a felony conviction Jacob’s family didn’t know about.