State Reps. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today introduced legislation to eliminate spousal exemptions for sex offenses, including rape and sexual battery. Ohio is one of just 13 states which legally treat marital rape differently from other forms of rape.
“We must modernize Ohio’s laws and eradicate unacceptable policy that allows someone to commit violence against their spouse,” said Boggs. “Women and men experiencing sexual violence at the hands of their spouses should not be denied the right to seek justice just because they happen to be married to the offender.”
Under current Ohio law, there must be “force or threat of force” for sexual assault perpetrated by a spouse to be considered rape. Cases where a spouse is drugged, for example, do not qualify for prosecution. Similar spousal exemptions exist throughout the Ohio Revised Code.
“Elected officials tout the importance of making Ohio a state where people want to live and work, but feeling safe and supported by the justice system is a crucial component to that equation,” said Johnson, a former Summit County assistant prosecutor. “I am appalled that there is not a larger discussion in our state about this issue. I am deeply disappointed that none of my Republican colleagues signed on as co-sponsors to this bill – protecting victims of sexual assault and rape should have nothing to do with partisan affiliation.”
Johnson introduced similar legislation in the previous General Assembly, but the bill was only granted a single committee hearing by majority lawmakers.