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Expired Justice: sexual assault survivors ask Ohio legislators to abolish the statute of limitations for rape

Rape survivor
Posted at 5:44 PM, Feb 19, 2020

COLUMBUS — Sexual assault survivors, prosecutors and victim advocates asked Ohio lawmakers to vote for a bill to abolish the state’s statute of limitations for rape during an Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Columbus Wednesday morning.

Senate Bill 162 would not only eliminate the statute of limitations for rape, which currently expires after 25 years, it would also close Ohio’s marital rape exemption, the controversial loophole that says violence must be used in order to define a sexual assault by a spouse as rape.

Jane Bryan, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner with the Cleveland Clinic at Akron General, was among those who testified at the hearing.

RELATED: Despite DNA evidence, statute of limitations prevents prosecution of Ohio rape cases

Bryan also shared her family’s personal story.

In 1991, her mother, Mary Ellen, was sexually assaulted by a stranger who broke into their Akron home while she and her siblings were asleep nearby.

When DNA finally identified her rapist, it was too late.

The statute of limitations had already expired.

“I can’t help but think the only person protected by the statute of limitations in this case, and in every case, was my mother’s attacker,” said Bryan.

A News 5 Investigation found Bryan’s case was one of more than 60 Ohio rape cases where tests on sexual assault kit identified DNA from an alleged rapist that that can never be prosecuted because of the current law.

While justice has expired for the Bryan family, Bryan told committee members the effects of the attack on her mother and their family have not.

“The harm caused by rape crimes extend well beyond the statute of limitations,” she said. “My family has been haunted with this sexual assault for 28 years.”

Jeanette Crabb, a sexual assault survivor, also testified during Wednesday’s hearing.

RELATED: Expired Justice: More than 25 years after her rape, News 5 Investigation helps Medina woman identify her rapist

“I still bear the scars from the rocks embedded in my skin and I carry the fear that impacts every decision that I make,” she said about the attack.

Our News 5 investigation revealed DNA also identified her rapist after the statute of limitations expired.

“My rapist is free. I believe he is still dangerous. He never even spent one night in jail, even one moment of punishment for such a heinous, destructive crime,” said Crabb.

"Please eliminate the statute so no matter how long it takes we can punish these monsters," she said.

The judiciary committee will hold another hearing on SB 162 to hear from opponents of the bill before voting on whether to forward the legislation to the full Ohio Senate.

RELATED: New law would eliminate statute of limitations for rape, childhood sexual abuse

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