Bipartisan legislation empowering sexual assault survivors passes House

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INDIANAPOLIS – Legislation co-authored by State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) to add the element of consent into the Indiana Code's rape statute today passed through the House.

House Bill 1176 provides that a person commits rape if the person engages in sexual activity with another person and the other person submits to the sexual activity under the belief that the person committing the act is someone the victim knows, other than the person committing the act, and such belief is intentionally induced by any artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the person or if the person engages in sexual activity with another person who has expressed a lack of consent, through words or conduct, to sexual activity.

Indiana Code currently requires that there be evidence that the perpetrator used or threatened to use force in order to be convicted of rape. This puts more burden on the victim and results in fewer successful rape convictions.

“Our society's understanding of rape has evolved and the state's statute has fallen behind,” Errington said.

One in five Hoosier women have been sexually assaulted, but 85% of those assaults go unreported. Hoosiers need to feel safe and confident in our criminal justice system. By adding the element of consent to the current statute, we are empowering sexual assault survivors and breaking the cycle of abuse. “

HB 1176 was a collaborative, bipartisan effort from Errington, State Rep. Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette) and its Republican authors.

“I'm grateful for the bipartisanship that went into building this real, concrete legislation,” Campbell said.

“We as legislators have a responsibility to the countless survivors and advocates who have been calling for this change for years. I would be remiss not to mention the survivor from West Lafayette whose miscarriage of justice inspired the legislative push to define non-consensual sex for what it is: rape. This is only the first step in creating long-lasting protections for all Hoosiers and I hope the General Assembly will keep this momentum as we move forward this session.” 

“I would like to thank Representative Campbell and my Republican colleagues for coming together to address this gap in our state's rape statute,” Errington said.

“No single legislator holds the answer to eliminating rape culture. Our understanding of the issue is ever-evolving and requires legislation that can keep pace with the times. We must continue to work together and establish comprehensive legislation that empowers Hoosiers for years to come.”

HB 1176 passed with a vote of 90-4. It will now move to the Senate for consideration.

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