Sex Offender No Longer Has to Register

By Bruce Cadwallader
Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)
March 6, 1998

A former Roman Catholic priest who admitted to having sexual contact with a Columbus boy and was sentenced to prison will no longer be required to register as a sexual predator with local authorities.

The ruling yesterday by the Franklin County Court of Appeals means Michael Hanrahan, 52, whose last known address was on Marwick Road on the South Side, can move as he pleases in Ohio without his neighbors being notified of his record.

"As we speak, it's being deleted from our computer and the file sealed," said Chief Deputy Steve Martin of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, the local agency that handles the registration of convicted sex offenders. "We don't track this guy anymore."

Martin added, however, that Hanrahan's criminal convictions in 1994 remain a public record. The county has 172 sexual offenders registered under a state law that took effect Jan. 1, 1997, he said.

In a unanimous decision issued by Judges John C. Young, Cindy Lazarus and Donna Bowman, the appeals court ruled that Hanrahan was not given proper notice for his sexual predator hearing. That hearing was March 6, 1997, one day before his parole from prison. He was notified of the hearing March 5, 1997.

Hanrahan was among several thousand prison inmates screened for sexual predator hearings in the early days of the law, said Dave Berenson, the director of the sexual offender program for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

"We had 18,000 inmates we had to screen for sexual predator status. Things like this were happening all the time because of the massiveness of the process," Berenson said. He said the process has now been streamlined.

When Hanrahan was taken before Judge Daniel T. Hogan of Franklin County Common Pleas Court for his hearing, Hanrahan's defense attorney objected, saying his client had no opportunity to prepare for the hearing.

The Court of Appeals ruled that sex offenders should receive proper notice before they are released from prison.

Hanrahan faced up to 30 years in prison on four counts of gross sexual imposition before he pleaded guilty May 18, 1994, to a bill of information charging him with sexual contact with an 11-year-old boy. The sexual contact occurred between 1983 and 1984. The boy was one of three brothers who claimed they were assaulted by Hanrahan as boys. Charges were never filed in the other two cases because of the statute of limitations, which requires individuals to file molestation allegations by age 24.

Hanrahan also obtained treatment in a Connecticut psychiatric hospital after resigning his position with the Diocese of Columbus in 1993. He had been a priest in the Columbus area since the early 1970s.

Prosecutor Ron O'Brien yesterday was studying the appeals court ruling for a possible appeal but said Hanrahan's case may have slipped through during the "crush and the rush" of enforcing House Bill 180.

After Hanrahan's release from prison, Sheriff Jim Karnes ordered that seven of Hanrahan's neighbors be notified in writing of his conviction. Another 15 letters went out to school officials and day-care providers.

Under terms of the law, the community notification process would have continued for life for Hanrahan.


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