Former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann recently asked the members of the Ohio General Assembly to eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for rape and extend the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse. Atty. Dann who led efforts to strengthen the state’s rape, sexual abuse, and sexual predator laws as both a member of the Ohio Senate and Attorney General cited the sexual abuse scandals that have roiled the Catholic Church, U.S. Gymnastics, Penn State, and the Ohio State University as reasons why reform is needed now more than ever.

Following is the letter he sent to Speaker of the House Larry Householder, Senate President Larry Obhoff, and all members of the GA in early June:

June 3, 2019

President Larry Obhoff

Senate Building

1 Capital Square 2nd Floor

Columbus OH 43215

Speaker Larry Householder

77 S.High St. 14th Floor

Columbus OH 43215

*Sent via electronic mail

 

         Re:            Criminal and Civil Statutes of Limitations for Rape

 

Dear Mr. President and Mr. Speaker:

I write to you today to express my support for legislation that will eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for rape in the state of Ohio. Like the current and former attorneys general who registered their support for this proposal earlier this week, I devoted much of my time as Ohio’s AG to ensuring that law enforcement had the resources needed to pursue, prosecute, and incarcerate offenders.

While I applaud the AGs for their advocacy on this important issue, anyone who truly cares about the victims of this heinous crime knows we must do more than erase the criminal SOL. We must also extend the civil statute of limitations to 20 years so that victims have the time they need to hold their rapists and their rapists’ enablers accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused.

I first learned about the terrible physical and psychological pain victims endure in 2005 when I led the effort to pass Senate Bill 17 while serving as the Ranking Member of the Senate Civil Justice Committee. After hearing harrowing testimony from women and men who had been sexually abused as children, both the Committee and the Senate unanimously passed the bill which contained a provision that extended the civil SOL to 17 years.

Unfortunately, in one of the ugliest and most destructive displays of the negative impact big money donors can exert in the state’s pervasive “pay-to-play” culture, the nation’s multi-billion-dollar insurance companies placed the pursuit of profits ahead of the interests of victims and succeeded in stripping the civil SOL extension from SB 17 when it reached the House.

Today, 14 years after that shameful act of legislative malfeasance, the need to significantly extend the civil SOL in more urgent than ever before. A fact underscored by the sexual abuse scandals that have roiled the Catholic Church, U.S. Gymnastics, Penn State, and the Ohio State University. In each of these cases as well as many others, powerful officials and administrators looked the other way as innocent boys and girls were abused. And, in many of these cases those boys and girls, who often did not come forward until years after they were assaulted, were left with little opportunity to obtain the justice and just compensation they deserved because the civil stature of limitations had run out. In effect, they have all been victimized twice: by their rapists/abusers and by a political system held captive by the insurance industry and institutions that vigorously oppose legislation that would hold them accountable.

Fortunately, Representatives Kristen Boggs and Tavia Golonski are taking up the work I and my Senate colleagues of both parties began in the Senate in 2005. They have promised to introduce a bill that will address both the criminal and civil statutes of limitations. Extends the civil SOL to 20 years and tolling it until a child victim turns 18 years of age will represent a monumental step for victims and impose much-needed accountability for those who committed monstrous acts and those who knew what was happening but chose to look away.

It is my sincere hope that the current and former AGs who registered their support for eliminating the criminal SOL will join me in advocating for victims past, present, and future.

Sincerely,

Marc Dann

*Originally posted in www.dannlaw.com on June 10, 2019.