State Senator Mark Messmer
Local Area (NNDC):
Protecting child victims of sexual assault
By State Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper)
Last year, he authored Senate Enrolled Act 551 to help Indiana better support those who have been through traumatic abuse experiences, protect Hoosiers from sexual predators and ensure offenders are punished for their actions.
To continue that work, this session, he has authored Senate Bill 206, which focuses on protecting children who have been the victims of sexual assault by taking into account their psychological well-being.
Indiana is currently one of only five states in the nation allowing unfettered access to the victim of a crime, regardless of the charge or age of the victim. A deposition is when a person gives sworn testimony before trial, where the defense attorneys get to question the accuser.
SB 206 would define the procedures for depositions of any victims of a sex crime who are 16 years of age. This would help prevent a child victim of sexual assault from having to re-live their traumatic experience prior to trial.
This legislation would also give the judge on a case discretion, allowing them to establish how to best handle each child’s situation. The defense counsel would still have access to forensic interviews, which are conducted by trained professionals and recorded video. They would also have the right to question in a trial setting as provided by the U.S. Constitution.
It’s heartbreaking that any child who is a sex abuse victim should have to go through this process at all. For these cases, I believe it’s important we consider their young age and take into account the trauma they have endured. This legislation would be a great step for Indiana’s court systems to be able to protect these vulnerable children, and I’m pleased to see it pass the Indiana Senate this week.