COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Parents and survivors of sexual abuse gathered at the Ohio Statehouse Thursday, calling on lawmakers to pass, among other things, statute of limitations reform to allow victims to seek damages — or criminal investigations — against their abusers and the institutions that housed them.

Ohioans for Child Protection calls itself an organization “formed by parents, grandparents and concerned citizens” that advocates for increased legal protection and avenues toward justice for child sexual abuse victims. At the top of the group’s list of priorities is passing a pair of bills aimed at reforming the state’s statute of limitations laws — and pushing the state to pass more.

“It’s horrifying, it’s unacceptable, and we have to do something,” said Rebecca Surendorff, co-chair of the Ohioans for Child Protection.

Surendorff, a mother from Cincinnati, said she helped form Ohioans for Child Protection after Father Geoff Drew pled guilty in 2021 to raping a student in the 1990s at the Catholic school where he worked as a music teacher. Shortly before he was convicted, Drew was pastor and superintendent of St. Ignatius Parish School — where Surendorff’s children attended.

“My kids were in eighth grade, sixth grade, fourth grade, and kindergarten the year that a now-convicted pedophile was running their school,” said Surendorff.

It’s why she and several other parents gathered at the Statehouse, imploring lawmakers to harshen penalties against predators and strengthen laws surrounding child protection.

One bill, House Bill 105, seeks to establish age-appropriate sexual abuse prevention education for elementary, middle and high school students. Introduced in February 2021 by Reps. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) and Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati), the bill proposes education on topics such as dating and relationship violence and includes training for students to identify and report sexual abuse.

H.B. 266, introduced in April 2021 by Reps. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park), would change the statute of limitations for criminal and some civil sexual abuse cases.

For victims of child sexual abuse, H.B. 266 would eliminate the two-year statute of limitations on suing their abusers, replacing it with a three-year time limit from the moment the adult survivor first comes forward. The bill eliminates the statute of limitation for criminal prosecutions of rape and voids the spousal exception to rape currently enshrined in Ohio law.

“I would love to see that go through for one it extends and or eliminates the statute of limitations laws for sexual abuse victims, and it also is going to give me the availability and others the availability to seek justice for all the damage this has caused,” said Paul Neyer, a survivor of sexual abuse.

Neyer is the survivor of Drew’s abuse whose testimony helped convict Drew of nine counts of rape. But he said he carried the pain of his abuse for 32 years before he shared his testimony in the courtroom.

Neyer said he’s acutely aware that many victims and survivors of sexual violence will never get to see their abuser stand trial — or face any other accountability for the harm they caused.

One such survivor is Stephen Snyder-Hill, an Army veteran and and outspoken victim of former Ohio State University physician Richard Strauss. Strauss was a doctor at Ohio State from 1978-98 who is accused of sexually abusing more than 350 students and student-athletes under the guise of medical exams.

Strauss died by suicide in 2005, before many of his victims realized they were sexually assaulted by him, Snyder-Hill and other survivors have said in court. Snyder-Hill joins more than 100 men fighting to sue Ohio State.

An investigation in 2019 found that Ohio State administrators were aware of Strauss’ conduct as early as 1979, but repeatedly failed to address or prevent the abuse. In a years-long legal battle with survivors, the university has maintained that the two-year statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases should have expired two years after each victim left the university.

Snyder-Hill said he hopes legislation like H.B. 266 and H.B. 105 protect other survivors from enduring what he has.

“I stand in solidarity with all survivors up here, and I firmly believe that it’s disgusting that the statute of limitations can protect these organizations like it does,” said Snyder-Hill.

Snyder-Hill called on state legislators to follow Ohioans for Child Protection’s lead.

“There wasn’t one lawmaker in this Statehouse that sat down here today to listen to us, and I hope they watch it on TV, I hope they watch it in the polls when we go vote,” said Snyder-Hill.

NBC4 reached out to state legislators for comment on these child protection bills, including House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman. Only Huffman’s office responded, saying he plans to follow the process on these bills moving forward.