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Plea for privacy: Rape victim asks Ohio lawmakers to protect sexual assault victims’ information

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 18:02:11-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Cleveland Heights rape victim is calling for changes to Ohio’s public records law after discovering her personal information posted on the city’s website.

Alisa Alfaro testified before the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning in favor of SB 17.

"Give us a little bit of dignity. I could not think, I've racked my brain since the day this happened to me, why the general public would need to know this with a simple [Google] search," she said.

The proposed law would ban law enforcement agencies from posting identifying information about sexual assault victims.

OH Senator Nickie Antonio (D-23) and OH Sen. Kenny Yuko (D-25) introduced the legislation after Alfaro told them about her experience.

"There's no compelling reason not to change this, there's no compelling reason not to protect our dignity, not to protect our privacy, " said Alfaro.

In May 2017, Alfaro said she called the Cleveland Heights Police Department after her neighbor, 64-year-old Charles Cross, sexually assaulted her inside her apartment.

When she went to the department’s website to print a copy of her police report, she was shocked.

The online report included her name, address, date of birth, and other personal details.

5 On Your Side Investigators' initial report on Alfaro’s story led Cleveland Heights to change its policy regarding publishing rape victims’ names online.

READ OUR INITIAL REPORT: Rape victim shocked Cleveland Heights released her personal information online

Rape victims’ names are currently considered public information under Ohio’s public records law.

As a courtesy, many law enforcement agencies redact victims’ names from public reports.

Cross was convicted of attempted rape in Alfaro’s case and sentenced to 16 years in prison in December 2017.

WATCH CROSS’ SENTENCING HEARING: Cleveland Heights man sentenced to 16 years for attempted rape, burglary

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