Thousands of Ohio rape victims could be getting a new shot at justice, as a bill that would extend the statute of limitations in many cases heads to the governor's desk.
The bill would let rape or sex assault cases be prosecuted up to 25 years after the attack, which is five years longer than the current law.
"We've been working on this issue for a long time. It's wonderful finally seeing progress in Ohio," said Sondra Miller, president and CEO of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.
She's been fighting for this day for years.
"We see survivor after survivor walk through our doors and not have access to justice," Miller said.
Five more years would allow prosecutors to investigate cases and press charges, which could mean justice for rape survivors, like Kate Hubbin.
"Basically, I never heard from the police department ever again. So the statute of limitations issue is a really important issue. Rape survivors take a really long time to get over being attacked. It's a long process," Hubbin said.
If a child is sexually assaulted, the statute of limitations kicks in once he or she turns 18. Now those cases will be allowed 25 years for prosecution, too.
If DNA evidence collected in any rape or sexual assault case finds a match, the suspect could be prosecuted a full 30 years after the attack, thanks to a "floating window" in the bill.
"We often tell rape survivors, 'You'll never find all of your healing in the criminal justice process.' But this gives us additional time to find that justice," Miller said.
Reps at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center say many of the survivors who walk through their doors come to them years after the attack happened. They offer confidential help to start the healing process.
You can reach the
24-hour hotline at 216-619-6192.