COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s a shocking revelation for victims of sexual assault at the hands of Ohio State University doctor Richard Strauss.
After waiting two years for state lawmakers to take action on House Bill 249, which would have suspended the statute of limitations and allowed their legal claims against OSU to move forward, the majority leader of the Ohio House said the bill was a sham.
In an email to one of the victims, Republican Bill Seitz said, “I do not support a resurrection of HB 249. … HB 249 was intended to apply pressure to Ohio State to come to the table and make meaningful settlement offers.”
Seitz called the bill flawed and said lawmakers never really considered suspending the statute of limitations.
The victims told NBC4 they are not giving up on changing the law, especially since the judge who dismissed their claims pointed out that state lawmakers have always had the power to change the statute of limitations, just not the will.
“‘Our legal system failed you.’ He said that. those were his words. The legal system failed you, that OSU failed you, and now the legislators, it’s in their court not to fail you,” said Steven Snyder-Hill, who is a Strauss survivor.
That’s why Strauss’ victims were stunned to learn the bill was always doomed to fail.
“Bills are always introduced for a number of reasons: sometimes they are introduced to get leverage, sometimes they are introduced to start a conversation, sometimes they are introduced in hopes that they pass,” said Chris Graham, a survivor of an abusive priest.
Seitz indicated this one was never meant to pass. And his email pointed out that if it did, other abuse victims would then want the same help.
“If you look around the country, you will find many, many Catholic dioceses that have gone bankrupt as the result of decisions in other states to suspend the statute of limitations. You will find that the Boy Scouts are paying an unbelievable amount of money to settle claims,” he said.
“So he is telling all of us constituents in Ohio that he is worried about protecting institutions that cover up rapists and predators. That is insane to me,” Snyder-Hill said.
Seitz said the statute of limitations guards against faulty memories.
“We want to see justice happen quickly because memories fade, evidence disappears over time; however, when there’s an issue of repression, it doesn’t make any sense,” Graham said.
Graham repressed the memory of being raped by a priest at age 14.
“I didn’t remember that when I ran from this priest that someone saw me, that someone helped me escape until I got into therapy, and when I was able to go to the police and they were able to find her and she was able to corroborate my story,” Graham said.
Victims of priests and victims of Strauss will work together.
“We are 100 percent determined to unify and get other people, other sexual assault survivors, to speak up and tell their stories, and we are going to demand that these lawmakers listen to us,” Snyder said.
“When organizations have enabled these sorts of these pedophiles, these serial rapists, we have to hold them accountable or it opens the door wide open for more of these types of people to come into our society,” Graham said.