February 2019

SMART Watch Newsletter

Case Spotlight

International Travel Notification Prosecution

Northern Ohio sex offender convicted for not disclosing move to China, teaching at elementary school

Prior to the 2016 International Megan???s Law, it was sometimes difficult to prosecute sex offenders who did not provide advance notice before traveling or relocating out of the country ??? a loophole IML sought to close. In part because of those new provisions of IML, there has been another successful prosecution of an offender traveling internationally without giving advance notice, this time involving an Ohio offender who traveled to China to work as an English language teacher.

In 2004, Mark Timothy Schafer was indicted in Ohio on one count of rape, one count of attempted rape and five counts of gross sexual imposition against a victim under 13 years of age, all as part of an admitted ???ongoing pattern of conduct in molesting young children.??? Later that year he pleaded guilty to two counts of gross sexual imposition and received a five-year suspended sentence on each charge with a condition of complying with community supervision. As a result of these convictions, Schafer was also required to register as a sex offender.

In 2006, Schafer violated his probation terms and a judge sentenced him to the full term of his 10-year sentence. By early 2017, he had been released from prison and had registered as a sex offender in Ohio. After his release, Schafer made arrangements to teach at a small private English-language elementary school in Shenyang, China. In September 2017, he obtained a Chinese visa and then left for China in November 2017 without notifying Ohio officials of his intent to live and work overseas. He arrived in Shenyang, signed an employment contract and remained there until early January 2018.

A coworker, a fellow U.S. citizen who had grown suspicious of Schafer???s unusual behavior with children at the school, discovered his criminal history and contacted U.S. authorities. The school fired Schafer several weeks later and, upon his dismissal from the school, Schafer was deported, returned to the United States and was arrested for failing to provide advance notice to Ohio of his change of employment and residence. Schafer pleaded guilty of two counts of violating 18 U.S.C. ?? 2250 ??? interstate travel and failure to notify ??? and is serving a 21-month sentence.

U.S. Marshals Service Senior Inspector William Boldin, sex offender investigations coordinator for northern Ohio, told the SMART Office this is the second international case in northern Ohio in the last 18 months.

???These cases are important because, regardless of where these cases are in the world, it???s important to protect children from these predators,??? Boldin said. ???We know these offenders prey on children; we have an obligation to do everything we can to prevent that.???

Boldin continued, ???As we have more aggressive enforcement in the U.S., the predators expand their search area for victims by traveling outside the U.S. Working these cases helps us to prevent additional victims, regardless of where they are in the world.???