Senate proposal could allow for more child sex crime prosecutions

Posted at 2:09 PM, Jan 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-21 14:23:50-05

INDIANAPOLIS — It could soon be easier for survivors of child sex crimes to get justice, if a 2020 Senate bill becomes law.

Senate Bill 109 would create exceptions to the current statute of limitations on sex crimes against minors. Right now, a person can be prosecuted for these sex crimes only if the victim is currently under the age of 31. Meaning if the victim was 10 years old when the crime happened, there would be 21 years available for prosecution.

The bill would change the law, making that statute not apply if new DNA evidence is discovered, if somebody confesses, or if there is video or audio of the crime. A 2015 law, best known as “Jenny’s Law” provided those exemptions for rape. SB 109 would expand the list of crimes.

The exemptions would apply to the following crimes:

  • Rape
  • Child exploitation
  • Child molesting
  • Vicarious sexual gratification
  • Child solicitation
  • Child seduction
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor
  • Incest

Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, said many survivors of these types of crimes don’t come forward until many years later. Advocates for victims said they were happy with the proposal but also said there is more work to go.

“By the time I did find my voice, the law was not on my side,” said Joy Rider, a sexual assault survivor. “I was here to testify for Jenny’s Law. We’ll take anything that will move us forward.”

The initial version of the bill would’ve eliminated the statute of limitations completely, but one of the bill’s authors, Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, said it likely wouldn’t have passed this session.

The amended bill was approved by a Senate committee Tuesday. It will now head to the full Senate.

“This is a step forward, but we’re still not where we need to be,” said Tracey Krueger, CEO of Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking, Inc. “Under no circumstances should a victim have to box in their decision when and how to pursue the court system against the perpetrator of this most vile act.”