Local Indiana Senator Proposes Bill to Help Protect Potential Abuse Victims

Jasper (NNDC):

Indiana Senator and Jasper native Mark Messmer has authored a bill that would place more protections for abuse victims and potential victims in Indiana.

The start of the bill originated from a Jasper mother’s concern about her under age daughter being groomed by a man for sexual intent.

Sen. Mark Messmer, of Jasper, started working on the multi-part bill after receiving a call from the local concerned mother. Her 14-year-old daughter had received Valentine’s Day flowers that were sent to her school from the father of one of her friends.

The Indiana Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 551 Tuesday. It is now in the Indiana House of Representatives for consideration.

The note on the flowers was very inappropriate  for a 40-year-old man to send to a 14-year-old girl.  The man was talking about how he loved her and looked forward to their relationship continuing to grow.

The mother discovered that the man had been sending text messages to her daughter, apparently more than 1,000 of them that spanned about 3 to 4  months.

Senator Messmer remarked that commonly  sex predators use this as classic grooming behavior of an adult to a potential victim.  The progression of the text messages was pretty clear that that  he was going to make his move in the near future.

Authorities agreed the man was grooming her daughter for a sexual activity. After going through the criminal statutes on sexual misconduct and there was nothing listed to deal with this type of offense as there had been no crime committed and there was no chargeable offense.

The mother called Senator Messmer about the situation, and he went to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. Working together last summer on wording for a bill that could be submitted to the Legislature. They tried writing definitions to clearly define all parts of the grooming behavior.  Messmer mentioned that there is no way to write a bill that is foolproof but gave it a try.

Instead they updated the protective order statutes to add to the list what a person could get a protective order for against someone, to include situations in which an adult is conditioning a minor for sexual activity. If a protective order is put in place and an adult does one thing that violates the order then a felony can be charge with, and all the other information becomes relevant to the situation.

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