Houchin: Sex crime bill ‘a blessing to victims’January 23, 2020
By CANDY NEAL
INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that is moving through the Indiana Senate would extend the statute of limitations for certain sex crimes against children.
Senate Bill 109 unanimously passed the Senate’s Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law Tuesday.
“The pain inflicted on victims can last a lifetime, and we want to make sure victims have every opportunity to get the closure and justice they deserve,” said Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, an author on the bill.
The original bill proposed removing the statute of limitations for certain offenses if a perpetrator confesses to a crime, or if law enforcement discovers DNA evidence of a crime or a recording that provides evidence of a crime. SB109 was modified in committee, limiting the time to go after a case to an additional five years after the new evidence is found, instead of indefinitely.
“If there is a discovery of a DNA, a recorded image or video recording of the event, or a confession, it doesn’t matter how long after the fact, the case is initiated and the prosecutor still gets a new five-year window of opportunity to charge the violator,” the bill’s creator, Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, said in the committee meeting.
Under current law, the statute of limitations for most sex crimes against children requires charges to be filed before the victim reaches 31 years of age.
“Ensuring those who commit heinous acts of sexual violence or child exploitation are brought to justice for their crimes is crucial,” Houchin said. “This bill would allow, under certain circumstances, prosecutors and law enforcement the ability to seek justice for victims.”
Houchin is optimistic the bill will be supported by the full Senate. The bill has not yet been put on the Senate’s agenda for a second reading.
“[The bill] passed out of the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law by a unanimous vote of 8-0,” Houchin said. “I believe it will soon pass the Senate with widespread support as well. In the days ahead, Sen. Crider and I will be speaking to our colleagues to encourage their support for the bill.”
If SB109 passes the Senate, it will move to the House and be assigned to a committee for review. “Sen. Crider will take it before the House committee,” Houchin said. “However, I will also be encouraging House members to support the bill as it will hopefully move through the second half of session and ultimately become law.”
The same version of the bill must pass both Indiana General Assembly chambers before it can go to Gov. Eric Holcomb for final approval and his signature to make it a law.
Houchin reiterated that she would continue to push for the passage of the bill because its intent is important.
“It is a great step in the right direction,” she said, “and I know that its passage will be a blessing to victims and a warning to perpetrators.”
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