State Representatives Nan Baker (R-Westlake) and Lynn Slaby (R-Copley) today held a press conference to discuss House Bill 488, which strives to provide increased support for victims of sexual assault, especially victims of sexually oriented crimes.

House Bill 488, which was introduced last week, would:

• Add an additional court cost of $100 paid by those found guilty of felony or misdemeanor sex offenses. After the funds are deposited into the Ohio Rape Crisis Program Trust Fund and administered by the Attorney General’s Office, those funds are redistributed to local service providers who offer supportive services to victims of rape and sexual abuse.
• Increase the court costs that are paid to the Reparations Fund from $30 to $50 for a felony and from $9 to $15 for a misdemeanor.
• Add a representative of rape crisis centers as a member of the State Victims Assistance Advisory Committee, which would give a voice to Ohio’s rape survivors and professionals who advocate for their rights.

“Establishing an Ohio Rape Crisis Program Trust Fund will allow rape crisis centers to provide consistent advocacy and counseling services to survivors in a way that has never been done before in Ohio,” said Representative Baker. “It is of the utmost urgency that we move this bill through the legislative process so we can more appropriately help the men, women and children who have been victims of sexual assault and other kinds of abuse. It is also important to note that these funds are being provided by an increase in court fees for the convicted offender, not by taxpayers.”

“By increasing the fines that are paid by sex offenders, we can save the long-term costs for victims and improve the survivors’ support system,” said Representative Slaby. “These court costs, which have not been increased since 1998, will benefit all victims of crime and help raise awareness about the need to support victims of sexual assault.”

According to the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center, each rape costs more than $150,000 as rape survivors are three times more likely to suffer from depression, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. It has also been found that individuals who survive sexual assault also experience reduced income throughout adulthood as a result of victimization during adolescence, with a lifetime income loss estimated at more than $241,000.

Crisis intervention and counseling services may decrease the negative effects of sexual assault and assist the victim’s ability to return to work. Yet despite the positive outcomes that rape crisis programs can offer, they receive no consistent state funding, while domestic violence shelters and child abuse prevention programs receive dedicated revenue streams.

“With one in six Ohio women experiencing rape in her lifetime, the need for new and expanded rape crisis services all over the state is critical and urgent,” said Megan O’Bryan, CEO of Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. “The Ohio Rape Crisis Fund can save lives without asking taxpayers to pay for the services.”

House Bill 488 has been assigned to the House Criminal Justice Committee and recently received sponsor testimony.

You may  view press conference video at the link:


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