Ohio’s rape shield law prohibits an accuser’s consensual and nonconsensual sexual activity from being admitted as evidence in a criminal case, according to a ruling this week by the Ohio Supreme Court.
A unanimous Supreme Court rejected the argument of Cedric Jeffries that he could introduce evidence at his trial for rape and kidnapping that his accuser previously had been sexually assaulted by another person when she was 4 or 5 years old. Jeffries argued that the purpose of the rape shield law was to protect victims from being harassed about only their consensual sexual history.
Writing for the Court, Justice Michael P. Donnelly stated the law does not distinguish between consensual and nonconsensual activity and that Jeffries’ narrow interpretation of the law “vastly underestimates the insidiousness of victim blaming.”
The decision affirmed the rulings of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and the Eighth District Court of Appeals.