STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – A Youngstown man on probation and registered as a sex offender was arrested after driving a vehicle in the Struthers Fourth of July Parade.
James Bares, 41, was volunteering for Mahoning County judge candidate Anthony D’Apolito’s campaign.
Cassie Ripple recognized Bares behind the wheel as a convicted sex offender who isn’t allowed to be around young children without supervision.
“I hurried up, took the phone out of my pocket. It was just like, ‘Why is he here?'” she said. “I’m like, ‘What is he doing? Why is he even allowed in this parade with kids on the side of the road, kids on floats, kids in the back of his car? How is that able to happen?'”
Struthers Police say they were alerted by an off-duty parole officer, who said she also spotted Bares and believed he was in violation of the terms of his parole.
Police contacted Bares’ probation officer, who confirmed to police that Bares’ participation in the parade was in violation of his parole.
“As soon as I got done with the parade, police came up and said, ‘This gentleman, we got word, is not allowed to be around children and we have to arrest him,'” D’Apolito said.
Officers met Bares at the Struthers Plaza where he was arrested. He was taken to the Mahoning County Jail and as of Thursday, is at the state prison in Lorain. He will be held there until a hearing by the Ohio Parole Board.
Bares was convicted on two counts of gross sexual imposition for assaulting a young girl who was just 10 years old at the time. He was released from prison in April after serving an eighteen-month sentence, and placed under community control for five years.
D’Apolito says he had about 150 volunteers helping with different parades over the holiday weekend, and that he didn’t know anything about Bares’ past. The candidate, who is currently the administrator for the county’s juvenile court, admits he should have done a better job overseeing his supporters.
“My circle of supporters is so big right now that I’ve got to take a step back and say, ‘Who do I really know’s helping me and who do I need to get to know better?'”
While D’Apolito is calling the whole situation embarrassing, Ripple says she hopes the Parole Board sends Bares back to prison.