Representative Karlee Macer authors bill to close age of consent loophole
INDIANAPOLIS – A recent Indiana Supreme Court ruling has inspired State Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Indianapolis) to make another attempt at raising the age of consent in Indiana.
Her proposal (House Bill 1111) would raise the age of consent from 16 to 18 years of age—putting Indiana on par with 11 other states—in an attempt to reduce rates of sexual abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking.
Rep. Macer attempted to make this change in the 2017 session, only to be turned back.
“Since the end of last session, there have been a couple events that made me want to reconsider this bill,” Rep. Macer said.
The Indiana Supreme Court recently ruled that a 40-year-old man could be convicted of a felony for sending nude photos of himself to a 16-year-old girl. However, Rep. Macer said that media accounts of the decision noted that the man would not be breaking the law if he would have had sex with the girl.
“The courts have tasked our Legislature with clearing up the current discrepancies in our law that allow adults to prey on and exploit teenagers. As elected officials, we need to respond to this call with action and legislation as quickly as possible,” said Rep. Macer.
“At one of my community events last spring, a father came up to me and told me that his 16-year-old daughter was having sex with a 52-year-old man,” she added. “The father was upset and shocked to find this man was not breaking the law. It was not considered statutory rape. Knowing that there are parents out there who are unable to take care of their teenage children in the way that they should is a horrifying reality that accompanies our current laws.
“The safety and well-being of our young people should always be our first priority. With the current laws, we leave the door open for abuse, exploitation and human trafficking,” Rep. Macer said.
This bill would also help with fighting the sex trafficking industry.
“The sex trafficking industry has a much easier job finding victims in states where the age of consent is lower, and the teenagers are much more susceptible to coercion. The industry is able to hide behind loopholes, and that is something I believe shouldn’t be allowed.” Rep. Macer said.
Rep. Macer emphasized that there a is clear definition in the bill: a person between the ages of 18-23 can be in a relationship with someone aged 16-18.
“I would not want to infringe on the Romeo and Juliet laws presently in place in Indiana.” Rep. Macer explained. “These laws in Indiana allow peers to engage in non-forced sexual activity as long as the two are within four years of age.”