OAESV works with its Survivor Advisory Council and local rape crisis centers to develop long-and short-term public policy objectives. OAESV staff then develop and implement strategies to support passage of laws and budget resolutions necessary to achieve those objectives. In 2018 and 2019, OAESV staff provided testimony to the Ohio Legislature on a number of bills and held numerous legislative meetings in order to gain support for an increase to the Rape Crisis Centers Line Item in the Ohio Operating Budget.

Racism as a Public Health Crisis

Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 was recently introduced into the Ohio 133rd General Assembly. This resolution would declare racism a public health crisis.

Watch our Executive Director, Rosa Beltré, give oral testimoney to the Health, Human Services, and Medicaid Committee here. Rosa speaks around the 3:45 mark.

And watch our June First Friday Legislative Update call recording here, where we highlight the Legislative Black Caucus's resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, and action steps recommended by its sponsors. We will also recap healthcare legislation voted on in the last week, and ways to reach out to the Governor's office. This will be a recorded webinar that can also be accessed on our website afterward.

Sexual Violence in Ohio: OAESV's Legislative Newsletter

Interested in our legislative work? Click here to read our legislative newsletters! These are sent to Ohio lawmakers in an effort to keep them up-to-date on any federal legislation impacting survivors, our statewide priorities, and any events and updates we have.

OAESV Fact Sheet Series for the 133rd General Assembly:

  • HB 606 (May 2020): Grant Immunity to Essential Workers Who Transmit COVID-19
    • Why This Bill is Consequential:
      • This legislation creates broad immunity for employers, employees, and contractors across industries.
      • Low-wage workers, already less likely to receive paid leave or health insurance, are a significant portion of “Essential Business and Operations” workforces. If passed, this bill would reduce incentive for essential businesses to improve safety and illness-related accommodations to their employees, putting both their workers and customers at increased risk.
      • People of color are more likely to maintain positions that require potentially hazardous contact with members of the public, without access to PPE. If passed, this bill will thus increase harm to communities of color, who already suffer greater impacts from COVID-19 in tandem with the overall impact of systemic racism.
  • SB 308 (May 2020): Regards Civil Liability for Service Providers in Emergency
    • As drafted, this bill creates immunity for nearly every medical action taken during the declared state of disaster. This is intentional, and stated to decrease lawsuits stemming from the ripple effect on care givers across specialties. The bill is drafted so broadly, however, that almost no plaintiff could pursue relief if their harm occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic or for 180 days after its conclusion. This will heavily increase already-existing disparities in health care access, and exacerbate harm to persons with disabilities, those experiencing language barriers, person lacking health insurance, those with unrelated health problems, people of color, the elderly, and others.
    • Sexual violence survivors will be impacted by this legislation, as survivors may encounter many medical care providers in the aftermath of sexual violence.
  • HB 352
    • Why This Bill is Important:
      • The current statute allows survivors to choose between a federal system that requires administrative exhaustion (filing an EEOC charge) within 180 or 300 days of the discrimination before filing a lawsuit, or a state system that does not. Each system has other advantages and disadvantages relating the specifics of any given case, but many survivors make decisions about filing based on whether they wish to utilize an administrative system before filing in court. This bill will take that decision away.
      • This bill will reduce access to justice for members of protected classes subjected to workplace discrimination.
      • This bill will increase Ohio Civil Rights Commission case processing times.
      • Because of the affirmative defense provided by this legislation, employers will be incentivized to push reporting survivors into preventative or corrective “opportunities” with little guidance on what that means in practice or how to make sure it is safe and trauma informed. This will likely also lead to victim blaming trends.
      • Survivors may not fully have time to process and make decisions about workplace sexual harassment claims in two years. This bill will reduce civil options to a workplace sexual harassment claim with a two-year statute of limitations and a sexual battery claim with a one-year statute of limitations.
  • HB 431
    • Under Current Law:
      • Ohio does not maintain a database/registry specifically related to sexual exploitation (offenses related to the exchange of money for sex, and most often involving third party financial beneficiaries).
      • Persons convicted of/pleaded guilty to 2907.22 Promoting Prostitution are required to registeras Tier I Sex Offenders within Ohio’s Sex Offender Registry.
      • Persons convicted of/pleaded guilty to 2907.24(A)(3) Soliciting (when the victim is a minor or has a developmental disability, or the person soliciting the victim has previously testedpositive for HIV) are required to register as Tier II Sex Offenders within Ohio’s Sex OffenderRegistry.
    • This Bill Would:
      • Require the Attorney General to establish and maintain a Sexual Exploitation Database
      • Allocate $170,000 to the database in its first fiscal year, and an additional $20,000 in its second fiscal year.
  • HB 470-472
    • Under Current Law:
      • In the criminal system, a prosecution for rape must be brought within twenty-five (25) years after the offense is committed.
      • In the civil system, a survivor of child sexual abuse must file any lawsuit for assault or battery arising from the child sexual abuse within twelve (12) years of that person reaching the age of eighteen (18).
    • House Bill 470 Would:
      • Eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for 2907.02 Rape.
      • Extend the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse in the following manner:
        • A survivor of child sexual abuse would have until they reach the age of 55 to file a civil lawsuit for assault or battery arising from the child sexual abuse.
        • If the defendant in a case resulting from abuse that occurred on or after August 3, 2006 fraudulently concealed the abuse from the survivor, and the survivor has reached the age of fifty-five (55) prior to discovering the abuse, the survivor may file a lawsuit for assault and battery stemming from child sexual abuse until three years from the discovery date.
  • SB 5
    • Prior to Senate Bill 5, Ohio law provided that $ 2907.22 Promoting Prostitution was a 4th degree felony unless the victim is a minor, making it a 3rd degree felony. No increased felony classification (and therefore no increased penalty) applied to repeat offenses, but no increased penalty applied to repeat offenses.
    • Senate Bill 5 sought to create an escalated felony classification for repeat offenses:
      • 3rd degree felony if victim is a minor (maintained from existing law)
      • 3rd degree felony if offender has previously been convicted of one § 2907.22 offenses
      • 3rd degree felony if the offender is also convicted of a qualifying drug trafficking offense
      • 2nd degree felony if the offender has previously been convicted of two or more § 2907.22 offenses
  • SB 28
    • Under Current Law
      • A first violation of a Domestic Violence (§ 3113.31) Protection Order, Sexually Oriented Offense (§ 2903.213) Protection Order, Menacing by Stalking (§ 2903.213) Protection Order, or Protection Order Against a Minor (§ 2151.34) is a 1st Degree Misdemeanor.
      • The offense becomes a 3rd Degree Felony when the offender violates the protection order or consent agreement while committing a separate felony offense.
    • This Bill Would
      • Increase the felony classification from a 5th degree felony to a 4th degree felony (increasing the confinement cap to 1.5 years and the fine maximum to $5,000).
      • Increase the felony classification from a 5th degree to a 3rd degree felony (increasing the confinement cap to 5 years and the fine maximum to $10,000).
      • Maintain the 3rd degree felony classification for CPO violations occurring during felony commission.
  • SB 162
    • Under Current Law
      • The Statute of Limitations for § 2907.02 Rape is 25 years.
      • The following sex crimes exempt from culpability perpetrators who are married to their victim (this is commonly referred to as Ohio’s Marital Rape Exemption): § 2907.02 Rape, § 2907.03 Sexual Battery, § 2907.04 Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor, § 2907.05 Gross Sexual Imposition, § 2907.06 Sexual Imposition, § 2907.07 Importuning.
    • This Bill Would
      • Remove the spousal exemptions.
      • Remove the statute of limitations.
    • Why This is Important
      • A person can be a victim of a sex crime regardless of their relationship to the perpetrator.
      • Because of the current law’s exemptions, §§ 2907.02-2907.07 offenses perpetrated by a spouse do not qualify as sexually oriented offenses.
  • SB 166
    • Under Current Law
      • Prosecutors currently do not have the discretion to charge many licensed providers with § 2907.05 Gross Sexual Imposition violations for sexual abuse of persons receiving care.
    • This Bill Would
      • Establish that sexual contact between a healthcare professional and a patient violates § 2907.05 Gross Sexual Imposition.
      • Provide the following felony classifications:
        • If the patient is 16-years-old or older: 5th Degree Felony
        • If the patient is 16-years-old or younger: 3rd Degree Felony
        • If the patient is 13-years-old or younger: 2nd Degree Felony
    • Why This Bill is Important
      • Any time there is an unequal power dynamic in a relationship, there is a heightened risk of abuse.
  • SB 239
    • Under Current Law
      • No Ohio Revised Code provision specifically addresses sexting between teenagers in similar age groups.
    • This Bill Would
      • Create an Ohio Revised Code section titled “Possession of Sexually Explicit Digital Material," which would prohibit persons less than nineteen (19) years of age.
      • Create a “Sexting Educational Diversion Program” as an alternative to prosecution of this specific charge.
    • Pursuant to the Bill
      • Makes an affirmative defense available to those charged if they can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that they (1) did not ask for or otherwise solicit the material; (2) did not forward, send, or otherwise distribute or print the material; and (3) destroyed the material upon receipt.

OAESV Thanks the Ohio House & Senate for Increased Rape Crisis Services Funding

We want to extend a very special “thank you” the Ohio House & Senate for approving the increased budget for the Ohio Rape Crisis Centers line item (“Line Item”), from $1.5 million per fiscal year to $4.75 million per fiscal year.

This increase was necessary in order to position Ohio's 31 rape crisis programs to expand services to cover all 88 counties. This increase will change the landscape of rape crisis services in our state and will positively impact the lives of thousands of Ohioans.

Before 2014, Ohio survivors could access rape crisis services in less than half of Ohio's 88 counties. Programs serving these counties operated heavily on federal grants, and the vast majority of federal grants restricted funding to the creation or maintenance of new positions and heavily regulate the tasks those grants will support. This left Ohio rape crisis programs without a dependable funding stream to cover costs associated with keeping their doors open.

To expand service accessibility across counties, and to increase the financial stability of Ohio's existing rape crisis programs, OAESV worked diligently with Ohio legislators and the Attorney General's office to create the Ohio Rape Crisis Centers budget line item. Under the Line Item, programs that meet the Core Standards are eligible for unrestricted funds. The Line Item's positive impact has been swift and powerful. For instance, many programs have been able to extend their services to cover additional counties, increase employment, and create prevention programming.

As counties providing services have increased since 2014, so have reports of sexual violence to law enforcement. This is just one way that the Line Item has demonstrated a tangible and impressive impact since it was first introduced.

Now, the increased demand for survivor services and prevention work will further be met with this extremely impactful increase in Line Item funds. We are so thankful that the Ohio legislature and the Ohio Attorney General’s office have made this decision to support survivors in Ohio and the advocates who serve them and to help put an end to sexual violence in our state.

Get Involved!

Download OAESV’s Ohio Rape Crisis Line Item Call to Action Toolkit HERE.

Advocate Privilege in Ohio: The Time is Now

OAESV is advocating for a proposed bill that, if enacted, would establish Advocate Privilege in Ohio - meaning that communications between sexual assault survivors and rape crisis advocates would be legally protected in the same way that communications between doctors and patients, and attorneys and clients, are protected. We believe survivors deserve access to advocacy services without worrying about what they say or what they've endured.

Eliminating the Statute of Limitations and Spousal Exemptions on Rape

In November 2019, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding its first hearing on Senate Bill 162: Eliminate Statute of Limitations for Rape; Spousal Exceptions. OAESV has been involved in previous efforts to remove the Statute of Limitations, including an effort that resulted in a modified bill that (instead of eliminating the SOL) increased the SOL to 25 years with a 5-year DNA match extension. As an agency, we believed that this incremental improvement was better than no improvement at all, but we know that the only way to ensure justice for all survivors is to eliminate the SOL completely, and we will never stop fighting until that goal is achieved. We ask for your support for the newest bill, set to completely eliminate the statute of limitations on rape as well as spousal exemptions for sex crimes.

Erin's Law: Requiring Age-Appropriate Education on Sexual Violence

Erin's Law, in effect in 37 states, creates safer environments and lives for children. Ohio's children and families deserve the same level of protection and prevention services.

Reauthorizing VAWA in 2019

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expired on September 30, 2018. The House passed VAWA reauthorization legislation in April 2019. In the last few days, Senate negotiations on its chamber’s bill broke down, and Republican Senator Joni Ernst stated her intention to pass legislation without critical restrictions on gun rights for stalkers and dating violence perpetrators. Rape Crisis Programs and affiliated programs can tell their senators that the Senate must pass one bipartisan bill that contains all of the House Bill protections.

Title IX

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces, among other statutes, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX is meant to protect people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Title IX states that: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.