The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that an Ohio law that makes it a felony when a police officer has sexual relations with an underage person two years younger than them or more was unconstitutional as part of a 4-3 ruling on July 28.
R.C. 2907.03(A)(13) states that:
“(A) No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another, not the spouse of the offender, when any of the following apply:…(13) The other person is a minor, the offender is a police officer, and the offender is more than two years older than the other person.”
The court found that the provision violated the both the equal protection clause in the Ohio Constitution, as well as the equal protection clause in the United States Constitution. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor noted other provisions in the statute that applied to teachers, mental health providers, and clerics required a relationship through their occupation with the subject, unlike the police officer provision while writing for the majority. “We therefore conclude that R.C. 2907.03(A)(13) is an arbitrarily disparate treatment of peace officers that violates equal protection under the Ohio Constitution and the United States Constitution.”
Matthew Mole, the police officer in question, first met the minor (The court documents refer to them by the initials J.S.) after J.S. started talking to Mole over a dating app. J.S. pretended to be an 18-year-old senior in high school, and invited Mole to their house at 3 in the morning on December 19, 2011. Mole was led by J.S. to a dark room at the rear of their house. They were soon found by the mother of J.S., and Mole, who was 35 at the time, discovered J.S. lied about being 18, and was in fact only 14 years old.
He was charged with one count of sexual battery – the provision now ruled to be unconstitutional – and one count of unlawful sexual conduct with an underage person. Mole was convicted of sexual battery, and served two years in prison.