Ohio House Democrats were critical Monday of a new bill introduced by their Republican colleagues that would end the statute of limitations for civil claims relating to sexual misconduct at the hands of public university doctors.
The bill was introduced in response to the shocking report surrounding former Ohio State University team doctor Richard Strauss. As The Ohio Star reported, Strauss abused at least 177 male students over his two-decade career at the university, where he worked from 1978 to 1998.
“The laws should be different in regard to the statute of limitations for sexual assault than it is for other crimes,” DeWine said, but declined to comment specifically on House Bill 249.
“Now, while Richard Strauss is dead and obviously cannot face justice for his crimes, we can use this tragedy as an opportunity to review Ohio’s current laws and to take steps to change the culture and how we respond to allegations of sexual abuse,” the Republican governor added.
House Democrats called House Bill 249 a “carve-out specifically tailored to the more than 150 men who claim they were sexually assaulted by Dr. Richard Strauss while attending The Ohio State University 19 or more years ago,” according to a Monday press release.
“Rape and sexual assault destroy lives and take a part of victims’ freedom and individual liberty that they can never get back,” Reps. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) (pictured, left) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) (pictured, right) said in a joint statement. “We’re proud to continue leading the fight to ensure all victims of rape and sexual assault receive justice. We’re disappointed, but not surprised, that this bill misses that mark so terribly by failing to protect the many other Ohioans around our state who are equally deserving of justice.”
House Democrats have been pushing for legislation to “end the statute of limitations for criminal and civil proceedings on rape and sexual assault cases entirely,” according to the press release.
“This sends the wrong message to victims of rape and sexual assault,” their statement concluded. “This says some victims are more important than others. It says some rapes and sexual assaults don’t matter.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photos “Lisa Sobecki” and “Tavia Galonski” by the Ohio House of Representatives.