Some State Lawmakers Push To End Statute Of Limitations For Rape Cases

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UPDATED: Wednesday May 22, 2013 6:04 PM

State Sen. Capri Cafaro says the advances in DNA technology is just one reason why Ohio's limitation on rape prosecutions should be eliminated.

"It's long overdue," said Cafaro, a Democrat from Hubbard. "It takes time to build up that courage, and they should not be violated twice when they come forward and learn that just because they showed up 21 years later, all of a sudden, justice walks away from them."

Right now in Ohio, there is a 20-year statute of limitation to prosecute a rape case.  

It's the same limitation as cases involving kidnapping, robbery and burglary. There is no time limit to prosecute a murder charge.

"You never know when a victim will want to come forward, so we should give them every opportunity throughout their lifetime, whether or not they want to come forward," said state Sen. Nina Turner, a Democrat from Cleveland.

Turner points to the recent high-profile rape case in Steubenville and in Cleveland, where three women held captive for more than a decade say they were repeatedly abused, as examples of why the limitation should be dropped.

"The laws are from before, and they're really not reflective of what society believes now," said Dr. Rita Wood.

Wood is a psychologist who has dealt with rape and sexual assault cases involving women, children and men.  

She says it's not unusual for victims to repress for years the memory of a violent act.

"I don't think there's an average time period; each person is different," said Wood.  "They can keep themselves busy with work or other things going on in their life."

Turner says several of her Republican colleagues have expressed support for the bill, along with Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Ohio would be the 24th state to eliminate the statute of limitation on rape if the bill is approved.

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