COLUMBUS —  In a debate Thursday afternoon, Attorney General Dave Yost got a preview of potential objections to one of his boldest proposals: ending Ohio's statute of limitations on rape.

At an event hosted by the Columbus Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, a group organized around conservative legal thought, the attorney general and state Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican and an attorney, debated whether the statute of limitations on rape should end. Mary DeGenaro, a former justice on the Ohio Supreme Court, served as the moderator.

The fundamental disagreement between the two men has to do with whether the current statute — 20 years — does enough to properly serve justice.

Yost does not think so. He repeated a sentiment he shared in his early June announcement of his push to end the statute, questioning whether rape as a crime is more like murder or theft. In Ohio, murder has no statute of limitations.

"Rape is unlike even offenses of violence," he said. "Even if you are beaten and your bones are broken, it's different than rape. Even if you are the victim of an armed robbery with a gun put in your face, it's different than rape. Rape is fundamentally a crime of power. It's the domination of one human being by another."

Seitz disputed this dichotomy. He invoked the established reasoning for having statutes of limitations, saying they exist to ensure swift and fair justice.

"Twenty-five years is plenty of time for someone to overcome the understandable trauma," he said. "The fact of the matter is memories do fade, and an unlimited statute of limitations could compel a defendant who is in a nursing home suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's, in a medically-induced coma, to defend himself when he has no means of defending himself at all."

Seitz also criticized Yost's proposal as incompatible with Ohio's current definition of rape. He said it is too broad because it not only includes forcible vaginal intercourse, but also oral sex and penetration with fingers. These inclusions, he said, should preclude the attorney general from making the argument comparing rape and murder.

Yost countered Seitz's implication that forcible penetration via the fingers was not as bad as non-consensual vaginal intercourse. He also pointed to new technological developments as positive developments for prosecuting rapists.

"DNA is not only useful to proving that the sex happened, but in the context of the rest of the investigation it is a key component of the proof," he said.

Seitz questioned the usefulness of DNA evidence in determining whether a rape took place.

"The fact remains that while DNA evidence might be probative of whether there was sex," he said, "it is not probative on the question of whether it was consensual or not."

Yost said after the debate that he imagined he would encounter similar objections to his proposal moving forward.

"There are people that agree with Rep. Seitz," he said. "Some of the concerns he's raising are valid concerns. This is going to be a matter of weighting the interest. How do we get to the most just place? And there's room to have some disagreement about that."

Rep. Jim Butler, a Dayton-area Republican and speaker pro tempore of the House, said that while he supports the attorney general's proposal, it remains to be seen how the rest of the House will receive the legislation.

"It's not been something that's been discussed yet. This has been an issue in the past, but now we have a new General Assembly with new members."

Yost first pushed for this reform when he released a letter in early June urging the leaders in the General Assembly to end the time limits under which prosecutors have to charge people with rape. Five of the attorney general's predecessors, three Democrats and two Republicans, joined him in signing the letter.