OH: A proposed bill would restrict public access to visual sex crime evidence

Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford’s bill designed to protect a crime victim’s rights could soon be headed for an Ohio House vote.

The bill, called the Victim’s Protection and Privacy Act, would prevent photos, videos and images of a victim of a sexually oriented crime from being accessed via a public records request. The bill was prompted by Retherford’s conversation with a Hamilton police detective.

These pieces of evidence were protected throughout a court case, including the appeals process, until the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in Caster vs. Columbus. In a split decision, the court said these pieces of investigative evidence could be released once the initial court case concludes.

House Bill 451 would prevent that. The House’s Government Accountability and Oversight Committee voted 11-0 on Tuesday to move the bill out of committee on for a full vote by the House. Retherford, R-Hamilton, believes it could be up for a floor vote next week.

“With the vote (on Tuesday), we are one step closer to ensuring victims of sexual violence are not subject to being re-victimized,” he said.

The bill is supported by the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, and the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Read more…