Lawmaker Works to Protect Children from Sexual Predators

COLUMBUS—State Rep. William P. Coley, II (R- Liberty Twp) today introduced legislation that will increase the penalty for sexual imposition committed against Ohio’s children between the ages of 13 and 16. When enacted, House Bill 380 would make such an offense a first-degree misdemeanor, versus the current penalty of a third-degree misdemeanor.

“The most important thing is to fix the law,” said Rep. Coley. “Gross sexual imposition carries with it a penalty of a fifth-degree felony, whereas sexual imposition is only punishable as a third-degree misdemeanor. I do not believe the current gap in penalty is appropriate when in certain cases the only difference in the two crimes is whether the victim is 12-years-old or 13-years-old. This legislation fixes the current injustice in the law.”

House Bill 380 is the result of a family that resides within 55th House district suffering from the imbalance of the current law. The family contacted Rep. Coley earlier this year after their daughter was assaulted. During the prosecution of the case it became clear that because the girl had turned 13 only weeks before the crime was committed, the offender would only face sexual imposition charges. Even if convicted, the offender would only be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor.

Rep. Coley has been working diligently to amend other pieces of legislation that will close the gap between the current penalties. This effort has proven unsuccessful and Rep. Coley decided in consultation with the family that pursing the change with a standalone bill would be more effective.

“We have a young lady who is a victim in all of this,” Coley said. “She has been dedicated to seeing this problem resolved and this work has been therapeutic for her. The family’s ability to come together during a difficult time and turn such a traumatic experience into a positive one is truly inspiring. I look forward to working with the bipartisan group of co-sponsors we have assembled to make this bill a law.”

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