COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former Army officer who served time in prison after repeatedly trying to meet girls for sex wants to become a lawyer, a move opposed by the legal profession, according to a case that has reached the state's highest court.
The Ohio Supreme Court held a hearing Tuesday on the request by John Tynes, convicted in military court of sex-related offenses after his arrest in 1998 in Chicago in an FBI sting operation in which he thought he was meeting a girl younger than 15 for sex.
Before his arrest, Tynes tried unsuccessfully to meet two other girls for sex, both under 15, in Kentucky and Alabama, according to the court's Board of Commissioners on Character and Fitness, which recommended against Tynes' request to take the bar exam. Tynes served 19 months of a 30-month military sentence, according to the board.
"He engaged in conduct that demonstrates a disregard for the law and, more importantly, a complete and utter disregard for the health, safety and welfare of others — namely, vulnerable, female children," the board said in a February report.
Tynes argues the case is nearly two decades old, he is fully rehabilitated and he didn't actually engage in sex with a minor.
In addition, no mental health-related issues have been identified that would prevent him from practicing law responsibly, the public would not be jeopardized by allowing Tynes to practice and there is no risk he would repeat the behavior, according to a May 29 filing by Tynes' attorney, George Jonson.
"His character and fitness to practice law should not be permanently impacted by missteps he took some seventeen years ago," Jonson argued.
Tynes, a married father of four, sought out girls during a stressful period in his marriage when he saw the relatively new Internet as a refuge, according to the character and fitness board. He is still married to the same woman.
Tynes was required to register as a sex offender in states where he lived since his release from prison — Virginia and Arkansas — but is no longer required to do so in Ohio, according to the board.
The Cincinnati Bar Association opposes Tynes' request based on the seriousness of the crime and the fact that Tynes delayed seeking counseling after leaving prison. It says Tynes becoming a lawyer would undermine the legal profession.
"There are simply some actions that should preclude an individual from ever practicing law in the State of Ohio," according to a July 6 filing by Paul McCartney, attorney for the Cincinnati Bar Association.
Tynes is a 2013 graduate of Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. The college was the only law school that accepted him, and he disclosed his conviction and imprisonment on his application, according to the character and fitness board.
This story has been corrected to show that Tynes thought he was meeting a girl younger than 15, not a 15-year-old.