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After Ohio State sex abuse scandal, a push to change statute of limitations for victims

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By Corky Siemaszko

The whistleblowing former Ohio State wrestler, who was the coach for failing to protect him and other athletes from a sexually abusive doctor who went to bat, would eliminate the limitations of rape cases in Ohio.

Joining ex-wrestler Mike DiSabato is a victim advocate and lawyer Gloria Allred, who is representing several former athletes who claim they were molested by Dr. Richard Strauss when he worked at Ohio State from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s.

"Clearly there needs to be a change in state law," Allred said. "We often think of victims of sexual abuse as women. We should not ignore men who were sexually abused. "

State Sen. Joe Schiavone, a Democrat who is leading the push to change, Ohio's law, said it is long overdue. He proposed a bill, which would only have been a donor, would eliminate the statute of limitations on criminal prosecutions and attempted rape and "provide that there is no period of limitations for civil action brought by a victim."

"There is a statute of limitation on murder and there should not be a statute of limitations on rape," he said.

But this is not the case since it only applies to new cases. He said, however, there was a one-year window opening that would allow Ohio State athletes, and only them, to file civil lawsuits for damages.

Currently, under Ohio law, the adult victim has two years of alleged abuse to file a civil suit. Meanwhile, the child has 12 years from his or her 18th birthday to file a civil suit for damages. For criminal charges, the statute of limitations is capped at 20 years.

The 1978 employment application information for Dr. Richard Strauss, from Ohio State University's personnel files.Ohio State University via AP

Sexual abuse cases vary from state to state.

DiSabato, whose allegations prompted the university to open an investigation into Strauss in April, said his alma mater needs to be "held accountable."

DiSabato recounted to journalists Wednesday, when he was allegedly molested the first time by Strauss, when he was a 14-year-old athlete at a Catholic high school in Columbus and the doctor was doing a body study that was authorized by the university.

"This is not a study, this is a premeditated plot to assault children," DiBabato said of the doctor, choking up.

It was "running joke" among students that the Strauss was molesting athletes and Ohio State did nothing to stop him, Di Sabato said. "There are systematic abuse within the athletic department," he said.

OSU has said that they will be "focused on uncovering what have happened during this era."

DiSabato, 50, made headlines in July 2008 Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, of turning blind eye to Strauss' alleged abuse.

Their broadside came after Jordan, who was assistant assistant coach at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994, insisted in no uncertainty about what he had done – and had not even heard locker room talk about the doctor.

But six former Ohio State wrestlers were interviewed by the NBC News they were Jordan had to have known about Strauss. One said he told Jordan about it and his account was corroborated by another wrestler.

Jordan did not respond to a request for comment on whether he would support a change in Ohio's limitations of law for sex abuse victims. Jordan has been insisted that he had the no knowledge of any sexual misconduct by Strauss.

A spokesman for Ohio State said, "We don't have a position on the bill."

Since April, male athletes from 17 different sports at Ohio State have reported Strauss's sexual misconduct, who was edited by suicide in 2005.

Ohio State hired the Perkins Counseling law into the allegations against Strauss. Jordan and some former students have been interviewed, Perkins Coie attorneys Markus Funk and Caryn Trombino told the Ohio State trustees earlier this month.

In August, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it was "Ohio State officials" who responded "promptly and equitably" to the complaints from athletes about Strauss.

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