COLUMBUS (AP) - The Ohio Supreme Court is set to hear arguments later this month over a challenge of a state law that puts a two-year time limit on sexual abuse lawsuits to be filed against the state.
A Cleveland woman who says she was raped by two state prison guards in a juvenile correctional facility in 2000, when she was 14, is challenging the Ohio law that limits damage claims against state employees and their agencies.
Almost anyone else in the state accused of sexual abuse can be sued for damages up to 12 years after an assault.
The Cleveland woman, whose name is not being used because she's an alleged sexual assault victim, says that the double standard is unfair and illegal.
Both the Ohio Court of Claims and the Franklin County Court of Appeals dismissed her lawsuit against state authorities, first filed in 2012, saying it was not filed within the required two years, since the alleged rapes occurred in 2000 at the soon-to-close Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility in Delaware.
The woman's Akron attorney, Jill Flagg, will argue the case before the Ohio Supreme Court on April 30.
She said that allowing abuse victims only two years to file claims over trauma that many can't acknowledge until they're adults holds the state to a lesser standard than anyone else and is a violation of the Constitution.
"It violates equal protection under the law," Flagg told The Columbus Dispatch. "There shouldn't be a shorter standard to file a claim against the state. It violates public policy."
The Department of Youth Services declined to comment on the court case.
But agency spokeswoman Kim Parsell said the woman who alleges that she was victimized at Scioto never reported she was sexually abused while in state custody.
Flagg said her client, now 27, did report the assaults.
Scioto, which is closing amid an ever-smaller number of incarcerated youth, and other Ohio juvenile correction facilities have some of the highest sexual-assault rates in the nation, according to federal figures.
"If we win this lawsuit, then all those kids can have justice, the healing power from bringing a lawsuit after they process the abuse," Flagg said. "They would finally be able to speak about something they couldn't when they were a kid and say, 'This is wrong.'"