Case About Minor Victim's Repressed Memories of the Alleged Abuse
In Ault v. Jasko (1994), 70 Ohio St.3d 114, 1994 Ohio 376, 637 N.E.2d 870, the Court addressed the situation where a minor victim repressed memories of the alleged abuse.
The "discovery rule," it held, applied to toll the limitations period in such situations. Id. at P1 syllabus.
The limitations period did not begin to run, said the Court, until "the victim recalls or otherwise discovers that he or she was sexually abused, or when, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, the victim should have discovered the sexual abuse." Id. at P2 syllabus.
Yet, some members of the Court were uncomfortable applying the discovery rule to these types of actions. Two members of the Ault court believed that the majority had improperly strayed into the General Assembly's domain.
Chief Justice Moyer wrote in his dissent, "The majority opinion announces a rule of law that would permit a person at any age after any lapse of time between the alleged sexual abuse and the revived memory of such abuse to sue the alleged abuser for money damages." Id. at 120 (Moyer, C.J., dissenting).
"If that is to be the law of Ohio," he continued, "it is the General Assembly that should declare it as such rather than this court."
Justice Wright agreed, saying, "the resolution of this issue lies with the legislature and not the judiciary." Id. at 124 (Wright, J., dissenting).
He observed that "the Ohio General Assembly is the appropriate body to conduct hearings, consider expert testimony and, most important, fashion standards." Id.
Even Justice Resnick, joined by Justice Douglas, while concurring in the majority's opinion, nevertheless agreed with the two dissenters that ideally the legislature should decide the issue.
"I agree with the dissenting opinions that the General Assembly is the most appropriate body to establish a discovery rule in childhood sexual abuse cases." Id. at 119 (Resnick, J., concurring).
Still, she continued, "I believe that until the General Assembly chooses to act this court is capable of interpreting the relevant statute of limitations to allow potentially valid claims to proceed." Id.