Victims alleging they were sexually abused by Dr. Richard Strauss at Ohio State University are backing a bill to eliminate Ohio’s statute of limitations on criminal and civil penalties for rape. And they have a star power lawyer on their side: Gloria Allred.
Allred appeared at the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday with state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, who is sponsoring a bill to make the change.
“We must think about who is helped and who is hurt by an arbitrary time limit — statute of limitations. Time limits only benefit the sexual predators and hurt the victims of their abuse, because it denied the victims access to justice and accountability from those who have harmed them,” said Allred, who says she has been contacted by men who say they were abused by Strauss but is not representing them.
Like many states, Ohio has a 25-year statute of limitations on criminal prosecution for rape, and limits civil suits to within two years of the alleged misconduct.
Schiavoni’s bill has little chance of passing, given that only a handful of voting days remain in the two-year legislative session. Lobbying is also underway to open a special window in state law to allow Strauss’ alleged victims to sue. Any bills not adopted in both chambers by the end of December die and need to be re-introduced next session.
Ohio State University and the Ohio Attorney General’s office in April hired Porter Wright Morris & Arthur to conduct an investigation into allegations that Strauss was a sexual predator and try to determine who at the university knew about it. Strauss was on faculty, acted as a team doctor and worked as a physician at the campus student health center from 1979 to 1998.
More than 150 former students and former athletes have come forward with first-hand accounts of abuse they say they suffered at the hands of Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005.
“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” Allred said of Ohio State. She added that the university should hear out victims, investigate allegations, publicly disclose findings and compensate those who can prove they were victimized.
Allred represented more than 30 women who accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault.