Cleveland Rape Crisis Ctr Supports Ending Time Limit On Sex Crime Charges

Ohio Statehouse [Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau]
Ohio Statehouse [Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau]

The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center "wholeheartedly" supports a proposal from Governor Mike DeWine to lift the statute of limitations for rape and other sex crimes. Ohio allows someone to be charged for rape within 25 years of committing the crime. 

The governor made the proposal Monday following the release of a report detailing sexual abuse of male students by a former Ohio State University sports doctor from 1978 to 1998.

“There have been numerous proposals in past general assemblies to eliminate the statute of limitations,” said Cleveland Rape Crisis Center President Sondra Miller, “but there frankly hasn’t been enough public support for those to pass all the way through into law. So if this is the story that finally resonates with our legislators and the public to do that, so be it.”

Miller says fear is the main reason survivors don't come forward immediately after an assault.

“Victims are afraid they will not be believed, they are afraid of retaliation from a perpetrator, they are afraid about who is going find out about what happened and how quickly is word going to travel,” said Miller. “And we want to make sure survivors have all the time they need to make decisions that are going to keep them healthy and safe.”

Independent investigators found that Dr. Richard Strauss sexually abused some 177 male students over the course of two decades during his time at OSU.

“We should all be disgusted,” DeWine said. “Every Ohioan should be disgusted and should be angered about what’s happened. Not only by the vile acts perpetrated by Richard Strauss, but also they should be angered that complaints and reports about this sexual abuse were not reported to higher authorities by the (OSU) athletic department or Ohio State University health center until 1996 — more than 15 years after the first reports were in fact received.”

DeWine called for lawmakers to remove the statute of limitations for sex crimes, as well as to increase the length of time available to file civil lawsuits against sexual abusers. While previous bills to lift the statute of limitations haven’t been successful, one new bill — House Bill 249 — aims to remove those time limits for Strauss’ victims.

Miller says she hopes Gov. DeWine and state legislators will propose legislation that removes the statute of limitations entirely.

"For survivors of sexual assault, there is no statute of limitations on their suffering, and we believe there should also not be a statute of limitations on offenders being held accountable for this kind of behavior," Miller said.

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