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Published: Friday, 6/1/2007

Investigators checking if Ohio sex offenders contacted youths on MySpace


COLUMBUS - Investigators are trying to determine whether any of the 470 registered sex offenders in Ohio who used MySpace.com contacted children through the popular social networking Web site, possibly violating terms of their parole or probation.

MySpace turned over the offenders' names to the Ohio attorney general's office after several states demanded data on how many registered sex offenders were using the site and where they lived. The company initially refused the request, saying federal privacy laws required the eight states to file subpoenas or other legal requests before it could release the information.

Attorney General Marc Dann filed a subpoena for the names, which his office and county sheriff's offices investigating the offenders are keeping private. MySpace began turning over the names last week and continues to provide information, Dann spokesman Michelle Gatchell said.

Franklin County sheriff's officials plan to compare the MySpace list with the roster of 1,752 registered sex offenders in the county, Chief Deputy Steve Martin said. If there are matches, authorities will review the MySpace user's online activity to determine whether probation or parole violations occurred, Chief Deputy Martin said.

MySpace, owned by media conglomerate News Corp., joined Sentinel Tech Holding Corp. in December to build a database with information on sex offenders in the United States. MySpace said it used the database to remove about 7,000 profiles from its site, which has about 180 million registered users, many of them children.

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