Ohio legislation seeks to eliminate statute of limitations on sexual assault cases

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It's a healing environment for sexual assault victims.

A place where survivors can tell their story when no one else will listen.

Jennifer Schlosser is with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and is glad that legislation is being proposed to remove the statute of limitations on sexual assault cases in Ohio.

"We make every effort to make our client's spaces trauma-informed, and that means that they're welcoming and beautiful and soothing," she said.

About half of the states in the U.S have no limitations.

Ohio's statute is 25 years.

Nearly 63 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, for many reasons, said Schlosser.

One is, victims fear that no one will believe them. Some victims mentally block it out, and most rape victims know their attacker.

A bill like this gives survivors all the time they need.

"We believe every survivor deserves to have access to justice no matter how long ago they were hurt," she said.

Two Ohio Representatives released the following press release, detailing the legislation:

"State Reps. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today introduced legislation to eliminate Ohio's current 25-year statute of limitations for rape. More than half of U.S. states do not have limits on when victims can file rape claims.

"Victims of rape, no matter how far removed from their trauma, deserve to be heard and have an opportunity for justice," said Rep. Galonski. "Technology has changed, and our laws should reflect that."

Statutes of limitations have historically protected against convictions rooted in deteriorated evidence. Advocates for eliminating Ohio's 25-year limit, however, argue that recent advances in DNA testing technology have eliminated many of these concerns.

"This legislation will help Ohio victims turn the page from a difficult chapter in their life," said Rep. Smith. "Justice delayed is always better than justice denied."

According to the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, 1 in 5 women have been the victim of rape in their lifetime, which amounts to approximately 743,000 women in Ohio.

The proposed legislation is currently awaiting a bill number and committee assignment, where it receive its initial hearings."

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