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Lanese Gives Testimony to Eliminate Spousal Exceptions for Unlawful Sexual Conduct

March 24, 2021
Republican Newsroom

COLUMBUS – State Representatives Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) gave sponsor testimony on House Bill 121 in the House Criminal Justice Committee last week. House Bill 121 would eliminate the spousal exceptions for the offenses of rape, sexual battery, gross sexual imposition, sexual imposition and importuning and to permit a person to testify against the person's spouse in a prosecution for any of those offenses. 

This legislation was previously introduced in the 132nd General Assembly and passed through committee with a 12-1 bipartisan vote.

Ohio is one of only a few states that still has language in the law preventing spouses from being charged when the spouse is drugged, drunk or incapacitated.

“Marital rape is the most underreported category of sexual assault even though 10-34 percent of women have been raped or sexually assaulted by a spouse or intimate partner. And, non-force marital rape often coexists with domestic violence compounding the trauma to the spouse,” Lanese said. “With domestic violence on the rise, it is it is even more important to erase these exceptions that are created by a wedding ring. A married woman should have the same protections as an unmarried woman. The distinction is archaic and should be changed immediately.”

With this legislation, the state has the opportunity to help victims of sexual assault. House Bill 121 brings Ohio in line with the vast majority of states that find no distinction between married and unmarried victims and allows the legislature to update this outdated version of the Ohio Revised Code.