Felonies in Ohio typically come with statutes of limitation extending six years. These laws are designed to protect the justice system against flawed outcomes driven by such factors as failing memories or degraded physical evidence. There has been one prominent exception — for murder, the crime so awful that capturing the killer serves the public interest whether it arrives in days, weeks, months, years or several decades.

Now Ohio has an opportunity to remove the current 20-year statute of limitation from the crime of rape, as more than half of the states have done. On Monday, Dave Yost, the state attorney general, and a handful of his predecessors joined in a letter calling for the change. This bipartisan backing should provide the impetus for state lawmakers to act.

The change is overdue. The proposal recently gained momentum when Gov. Mike DeWine called for removing the limitation in the wake of the investigation into the late Richard Strauss, an Ohio State physician who abused at least 177 students during his two decades at the university. Survivors taught another lesson in the reality of rape’s trauma. It can take many years before victims feel safe enough to come forward.

At a press conference to announce the letter from the attorneys general, Yost aptly framed their shared thinking with a question: “Is rape more like a homicide or more like a theft?” Clearly, it rates much closer to the former. As the letter states, “the profound invasion of a person makes rape like no other crime — a violation of the body, the mind and the soul.” It adds that the crime carries “a lifetime impact.”

The letter also takes up the concern that removing the statute of limitation risks unjust results. It points out, as Yost reiterated for reporters, that prosecutions for rape usually fail because the state falls short of its burden of proof. The extended time can heighten the burden. More, the standard doesn’t change. Prosecutors still face the task of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt to gain a conviction.

Betty Montgomery, a former state attorney general, joined Yost, a fellow Republican, at the press conference. She strengthened the argument for removing the limitation by noting that rapists tend to be “serial criminals,” with even dozens of victims before they are caught. So it follows that the toll further defines the need to keep open investigations.

Nancy Rogers, another signer of the letter, represented at the press conference the Democrats who have served lately as state attorney general. She emphasized how circumstances have changed and thus make more persuasive the idea of ending the statute of limitation. Those changes start with the scientific advances, cold cases more likely to be solved through such tools as increasingly sophisticated DNA testing. That became evident with Mike DeWine, during his time as attorney general, conducting the testing of thousands of untested rape kits across the state.

Rogers also reinforced how public attitudes have changed, bringing a much greater understanding of what rape victims endure. Many victims fear reporting the crime, often out of undue yet persistent shame. So it can take a long time before telling anyone, let alone authorities.

A bill to eliminate the statute of limitation for rape gained just one hearing last year. State Reps. Tavia Galonski, an Akron Democrat, and Kristin Boggs, a Columbus Democrat, already had plans to revive the proposal in this legislative session. Now the cause has received a substantial boost. The governor, attorney general and five previous attorneys general — Democrats and Republicans — have called for removing the limitation. State lawmakers have the reason and support they need to make it happen.