STATEHOUSE (Feb. 23, 2021) – The Indiana House of Representatives recently supported State Rep. Wendy McNamara's (R-Evansville) legislation, which would help combat human trafficking and expand protections for young Hoosier victims.
According to McNamara, author of the bill, current law requires Hoosiers 15 years old or older at the time of a trial to testify in court. McNamara's proposal would allow survivors 14 years old or younger at the time of their assault to submit a video statement for court procedures if they are younger than 18 at the time of the trial.
"Human trafficking is a serious crime and causes lasting trauma," McNamara said. "Requiring survivors to relive their experiences while their case is moving through the court system is not the best way victims heal or recover. This proposal would add a much-needed layer of protection while not compromising the integrity of an investigation or trial."
Additionally, the legislation would also increase sentencing for perpetrators whose victims are under the age of 18 and require local organizations or agencies to report investigations of human trafficking to the Indiana Attorney General's office.
Currently, individuals who offer to or pay for sex acts can only be prosecuted with a Level 5 felony if they pay the trafficker directly. According to law enforcement, it is difficult to prosecute suspects as the majority of transactions occur between the perpetrator and the victim. Under McNamara's proposal, a person could be convicted of the felony regardless of whether they pay the victim or the trafficker directly.
"Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar worldwide industry," McNamara said. "It is my hope this legislation delivers a clear message to all who traffic Hoosier youth and adults in Indiana that they will be held accountable for their heinous actions."
House Bill 1200 now moves to the Indiana Senate for consideration. Visit iga.in.gov to learn more.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 157 human trafficking cases in Indiana between 2018 and 2019, which is a 19% increase. If someone is suspected to be a victim of human trafficking, it should be reported immediately to the Indiana Department of Child Services at 1-800-800-5556 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) represents House District 76,
which includes portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties.
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