Columbus -- Victims of rape or sexual battery could pursue criminal charges against their attackers decades after incidents occur, under legislation being considered in the Ohio Senate.
Senate Bill 324 would extend the statute of limitations on such crimes if DNA analysis of evidence identifies the offender.
"Victims of sexual offenses are faced not only with a physical trauma, but they are left with lifelong emotional scars," Sen. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro), a primary co-sponsor of the bill, said in testimony submitted to the Senate's Criminal Justice Committee. "An immense amount of emotional strength is needed to relive a violent crime through court proceedings. It can take years for victims of sexual crimes to gather the courage necessary to pursue prosecution."
Jones and co-sponsor Sen. Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) offered testimony May 20 before the lawmaker panel, where SB 324 had its first hearing.
Under current law, prosecution of rape or sexual battery crimes generally must begin within 20 years of an offense. Under SB 324, the timeframe would be extended in cases where DNA evidence pinpoints a particular perpetrator.
Hughes said at least 27 other states have comparable DNA exceptions already in place.
"Victims of rape and sexual battery experience a grave emotional, physical and psychological disturbance that, frankly, I can't even fathom," Hughes said. "It is no surprise that many victims need time to heal and come forward to friends and family before they can consider testifying before the public about their traumatic experience. SB 324 would allow victims to take the time they may need to emotionally prepare themselves to speak about the crime."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.