Victims’ rights attorney Gloria Allred and former Ohio State wrestler Michael DiSabato were at the Ohio Senate Wednesday with Sen. Joe Schiavoni to support his bill that would eliminate time limits for prosecuting or suing for sex crimes.
Allred, known for representing accusers of both Bill Cosby and President Donald Trump, was contacted for representation by many of the former Ohio State students, including DiSabato, who claimed to be victims of sexual assault by former Ohio State team physician Dr. Richard Strauss. Strauss, who died in 2005, was accused by more than 150 former student athletes for sexual misconduct between 1978 and 1998.
Allred is unable to represent Strauss’ alleged victims due to Ohio’s statute of limitations that allows 25 years to prosecute sex crimes and just two years to sue for civil damages. Allred avidly supports Schiavoni’s bill to eliminate time limits in both criminal- and civil-justice systems for victims of rape or sexual abuse.
“Time limits only benefit the sexual predators and hurt the victims of their abuse,” Allred said in a statement. “It denies the victims access to justice and accountability from those who have harmed them.”
Schiavoni said several states have eliminated statutes of limitations for sex crime prosecutions; however, there is little legislation for victims seeking damages to sue in civil court.
“This is about human beings. It’s about humanizing this issue,” Schiavoni said to the Senate. “It’s not about putting some artificial limit on what legislatures feel is the right time for somebody to come forward after they’ve dealt with something that most of us don’t understand.”
Last summer, Ohio State dismissed a number of lawsuits from alleged victims, citing the statute of limitations on class-action suits. The former athletes sued Ohio State for damages on account of its failure to address the claims of abuse levied against Strauss during his time at Ohio State.
In an emotionally driven speech, DiSabato addressed the abuse he faced and Ohio State’s dismissal of the victims’ lawsuits.
“The Ohio State University has silenced thousands of voices, which needs to end today,” DiSabato said. “The soul of this university, The Ohio State University, is in our hands.”
Allred noted the influence of Strauss’ victims who have “found the courage to come forward in order to help change the law to benefit other victims of predators in the future.”
The bill has little chance of passage at the moment, due to the current lame-duck season, being proposed by the Democratic minority in the Statehouse and Schiavoni wrapping up his term this year.