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Man charged for 2010 sexual assault after statute of limitations prevents prosecution for 1991 rape

Mary Ellen Bryan
Posted at 6:16 PM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 19:11:47-04

AKRON, Ohio — An Akron man whose DNA was connected to an Akron woman’s rape in 1991 but couldn’t be charged due to the statute of limitations has been formally charged for a 2010 sexual assault, just days before he was set to be released from prison after serving his sentence for another crime.

Derrick Fischer, 51, is now facing two counts of rape connected to a 2010 sexual assault. News 5 Investigator Sarah Buduson first told you about Fischer in her exclusive investigation “Expired Justice,” which revealed how Ohio law allows some rapists to walk free.

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

In 2019, Mary Ellen Bryan, an Akron mother, told us DNA from her rape kit matched Fischer. But he was never arrested, charged, or prosecuted for what happened in 1991. Because for Bryan, justice had expired.

“There was a violent crime where my children were home,” Bryan told News 5 in 2019. ”And he got away with it."

Like most states, Ohio has a statute of limitation for rape. The law creates a clock. It starts when the crime is committed and runs out after 25 years.

“It punishes the victims,” Bryan said. “It's another assault on us. We don't get, you know, what we deserve."

Even though there was DNA evidence in Bryan’s case, by the time it was finally tested, it was too late.

“When my kit was tested, they found a DNA match that came through CODIS [the Combined DNA Index System]. And that match was that it was a person named Derrick Fischer.”

But when Mary Ellen was attacked, Ohio’s statute of limitations was only 20 years.

Prosecutors explained to her, that on June 29, 2011, her window to receive justice closed.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, Bryan’s case was one of 61 cases where no one can ever be prosecuted, despite a DNA match discovered during the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, which was started in 2012 by then-Attorney General Mike DeWine to DNA test the state’s backlog of sexual assault kits.

However, Bryan’s rape kit wasn’t the only one that matched Fischer, and in that other case, there was time to prosecute.

Police said Fischer's DNA hit on a 2010 Barberton rape, and now, he’s facing two new charges for that crime.

In a statement provided to News 5, Bryan said: “It was devastating that the statute of limitations for rape prevented any accountability for the violent crime committed against me. But I am hopeful that this victim will receive the justice they deserve."

Fischer is already behind bars. He was convicted in 2016 on drug and domestic violence charges. He was also convicted of another rape in Akron back in 1992.

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

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