Today, state Senator Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Senate Minority Whip Sean J. O’Brien (D-Bazetta), along with House Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) and State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron), will introduce legislation to modernize Ohio’s rape code. This legislation would eliminate both the statute of limitations for sex crimes and spousal exemptions for rape, sexual battery and other sexual offenses.
“For years Democrats have initiated legislation calling for an end to the statute of limitations for offenses of rape,” said Antonio. “We believe that now, more than ever, the public is on the side of removing the artificial line in the sand that prevents a survivor from coming forward to report such emotionally traumatic and violent experiences, especially because every survivor processes their trauma in their own time.”
Under current law, prosecution against a perpetrator of rape or sexual battery must begin within 25 years after the crime. While the existence of a statute of limitations for sex crimes had its basis in the idea that evidence deteriorates over time, DNA testing technology has advanced enough to detect evidence that is decades old.
"We've entered an era where Ohioans believe there shouldn't be any exceptions for rape – period," said Boggs. "Marriage shouldn't permit you to commit sexual violence on your spouse. Not now, not ever. We need to modernize our outdated laws to better protect the safety and security of Ohioans."
Although marital rape has been illegal in all 50 states for more than two decades, Ohio is one of 12 states with a loophole that prevents a rapist from being prosecuted for spousal rape as long as no “threat of force or violence” exists. Thus, in Ohio, it is legal for a spouse to use drugs to incapacitate their spouse and engage in sex with them without their consent.
“We believe that rape is a crime of such brutality and violence that victims shouldn’t have to suffer the rest of their lives – no matter how much time has passed since the offense. This, coupled with the fact that any non-consensual sexual contact should be considered rape regardless of marital status, necessitates the passage of this important piece of legislation,” said O’Brien.
Governor Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost have recently called for an end to the statute of limitations for rape.
“Justice should not expire. Equal access to justice ensures that all Ohioans may have a justice system that works for them and not against them by requiring an unreasonable time limit when there is still viable evidence,” said Galonski.