Columbus —Democratic state lawmakers announced legislation May 26 to lift the statute of limitations for all rape cases, opening the door for prosecutions decades after crimes were committed.
Reps. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) and Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) also want to ensure victims of rape and sexual battery can pursue charges against their spouses.
“Right now, we live in a state where certain offenses of rape and all offenses of battery are not considered crimes if they’re committed against a spouse,” said Johnson, a former prosecuting attorney in Mahoning and Summit counties. She added, “It is time to put Ohio out of the dark ages. Rape is real, sexual battery happens. I refuse to stand by with this platform that I have and not challenge this law that only adds to the mountain of reasons victims need to overcome to report their sexual assault.”
The announcement came a couple of weeks after the Ohio House OK’d legislation to extend the timeframe for prosecution of rape and sexual battery to 25 years, with additional time allowed in cases where DNA evidence can pinpoint perpetrators. The current statute of limitations on those crimes is 20 years.
Comparable legislation moved through the Ohio Senate earlier this year and has cleared a House committee, setting the stage for a possible floor vote.
The House vote on HB 6 was unanimous, but Johnson voiced concern during the floor discussion on the legislation that lawmakers weren’t doing more to allow later prosecution for rape, including those without DNA evidence.
The legislation she announced May 26 would “completely eliminate” the statute of limitations on rape and sexual battery, regardless of what kind of evidence was available for convictions.
“I am not done, and I will continue to work to make sure that every victim of every sexual battery and rape has the ability and access to justice they deserve,” Johnson said.
Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.