Bill sponsored by Olthoff to improve sexual assault investigations could soon be law

Tuesday, March 16, 2021 9:30 am

STATEHOUSE (March 16, 2021) – Legislation sponsored by State Rep. Julie Olthoff (R-Crown Point) to improve sexual assault investigations across the state could soon be law.

According to Olthoff, officers who regularly investigate sexual assaults against adults would receive specialized training on how the brain reacts to trauma and the best investigatory techniques to use in order to build trust and rapport with victims, while collecting stronger evidence. She said trauma-informed interviewing frames questions in a way that helps the victim understand what they are being asked, and in an attitude that does not jump to conclusions or judgement. 

"Unfortunately, many survivors of sexual assault do not report the crimes committed against them, and one of the many reasons is because recalling crucial details, which strengthens their case, is very traumatic," Olthoff said. "With improved training, officers will have new tools to recognize, understand and effectively respond to the effects of trauma. As law enforcement put their training into practice, maybe more victims would come forward and more criminals will be put behind bars."

Developed by police officers using information from medical studies, Olthoff said the robust, trauma-informed training is a continuation of efforts to strengthen the prosecution of sexual assault cases and the support for victims.

The Indiana Law Enforcement Academy would adapt its current sexual assault training to meet the new standards.

According to the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking, 1 in 5 Hoosier women have been sexually assaulted, while 85% of assaults are not reported to police.

Senate Enrolled Act 81 is now eligible for action by the governor. Visit iga.in.gov to learn more.

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State Rep. Julie Olthoff (R-Crown Point) represents House District 19,
which includes a portion of Lake and Porter counties.
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here to download a high-resolution photo.