STATEHOUSE (Feb. 26, 2021) – The Indiana House of Representatives recently supported legislation co-authored by State Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica) to help combat human trafficking and expand protections for young Hoosier victims.
According to Negele, current law requires Hoosiers 15 years old or older at the time of a trial to testify in court. This 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.
"Young survivors should not be forced to publicly relive the experience while their case is in trial," Negele said. "By allowing young victims to submit a video statement, this legislation would provide a solution that will not only preserve the integrity of the trial, but will also protect the victim from further harm and not hinder their road to recovery."
Additionally, the legislation would 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 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 this 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 that preys on the vulnerable, and it must be stopped," Negele said. "We need to continue addressing and raising awareness about this common crime."
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. Sharon Negele (R-Attica) represents House District 13,
which includes all of Benton County, and portions of Fountain, Jasper,
Montgomery, Newton, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties.
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