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Ohio House Speaker Backs Plan To Drop Statute Of Limitations For Rape

Ohio House

Gov. Mike DeWine is urging state lawmakers to end the time limit on criminal charges for rape and sexual assault, which Democrats have been proposing for years. The leader of the Ohio House says there’s a chance that will happen.

A Republican-backed bill, HB249, would extend the two-year period to file civil lawsuits related to sexual misconduct by doctors at land grant universities between 1978 and 2000 – a proposal aimed at the alleged survivors of Ohio State University doctor Richard Strauss.

Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) said he’s talked to the sponsor about DeWine’s call to eliminate or lengthen the time period for criminal charges for sex crimes.

“He’s open to using this bill as a vehicle to be able to broaden it and hopefully bring a tougher penalty and an opportunity for this to be addressed," Householder said.

Democrats have been arguing for eliminating the statute of limitations for four years. They tried to amend the “heartbeat” six-week abortion ban with that idea, but it was rejected.

A recent independent report found at least 177 students who were sexually abused by Strauss while he worked in Ohio State Athletics Department and Student Health Center from 1978-1996. The report found university personnel heard complaints as early as 1979 but failed to act for almost two decades.

Ohio State president Michael Drake released a statement Monday in support of dropping the statute of limitations in criminal cases.

"We share Governor DeWine’s concern and compassion for survivors of sexual abuse and applaud the administration’s efforts to strengthen sexual misconduct reporting to law enforcement," Drake writes.

Dozens of accusers have filed lawsuits against Ohio State, and more lawsuits are expected in the coming days. Many of the cases are headed to mediation.