What is Rape Shield Law and What are its Punishments in Ohio?
It appears that one has to have a steely mind to withstand the negative impact created by various news stories about sexual assault and rape incidents that seem to be on the rise in recent times. Apart from coping with the physical effects of such assaults and rapes, victims are likely to put up with the inexplicable ordeal of encountering the onslaughts of harassers as well.
Therefore, if it is concluded that the rape shield laws that have been enacted by several countries have not come a day soon, it is not at all wrong. The United States of America is one among the nations that have passed this law. In fact, it was the state of Michigan that passed the law about 45 years back during 1974.
Other states including Ohio followed the example of Michigan and enacted their own rape shield laws. Let us now attempt to know more about Ohio rape shield law, the punishments available to the rape-convicts, and the protections available to the rape victims.
Punishments a rape accused will face as per Ohio rape shield law
It is worth observing that nearly half of the number of states of the United States of America has incorporated the same clauses that are there in the rape shield law of the Michigan state, that has played the role of a pioneer and enacted this law first.
This means that the punishments that are awarded to a rape accused are almost similar in the rape shield law of every state of the USA and this includes the Ohio law as well. Firstly, the accused will face imprisonment. Secondly, he or she will not have the right over the child that may be born out of the incident.
But the clause is very clear about one aspect and that is the accused should have been found guilty and convicted by the court. The rapist-parent will not have custody rights as well as visitation rights over the child that may be born out of the horrific incident.
What are the points in the Ohio Rape Shield Law that protect the rape victims?
The purpose of rape shield laws of every state of the USA including that of Ohio is that the governments want to resolve the issues faced by the victims. This means that they do not want to aggravate their problems. That is the reason they have incorporated several protective clauses into the laws. According to the Ohio rape shield law, seeking evidence pertaining to the past sexual behaviors of the rape accused is not admissible.
But if the judge opines that the evidence is very vital or very much relevant for the conduct of the trial in a fair manner and for pronouncing the right verdict, he or she can admit production of such evidence. In other words, it is the sole discretion of the court to decide whether such evidence is relevant to the conduct of the trial in a fair manner. But in general, evidence that may give scope to harassers to cause embarrassment to the rape victims is not admissible.
The main reason for having this clause in the Ohio rape shield law is that the state does not want to compromise on the safety of the victims. Authorities of the judiciary department of the state are well aware that a rape victim will experience inexplicable mental agony if she or he is harassed by those with evil intentions. Not only that, the media that is always on the look-out for juicy stories are likely to grab whatever bits and pieces of information they get.
This will add to the agony of the victims. More importantly, conducting rape and sexual assault-related trials is a complex process and it is like walking on a tight rope for the courts. They should safeguard the interests of the victims and at the same time, they should make sure that the accused gets the benefit of a fair trial as well. In this context, if it is said that the rape shield law of the Ohio State certainly fulfills these needs to a significant extent, it may not be an exaggeration.