STATEHOUSE (Feb. 26, 2021) – The Indiana House of Representatives recently supported legislation co-authored by State Rep. Julie Olthoff (R-Crown Point) to help combat human trafficking and expand protections for young Hoosier victims.
According to Olthoff, 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.
"Human trafficking survivors deserve justice, but they also deserve protection and respect," Olthoff said. "Forcing young Hoosiers to show up in court and face their perpetrator is traumatic. This legislation would provide protection without compromising the integrity of an investigation or trial."
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 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 worldwide problem, and it is happening right here in our state," Olthoff said. "Sadly, this is a common crime. But we are going to continue fighting it and giving law enforcement more tools to put traffickers behind bars."
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. Julie Olthoff (R-Crown Point) represents House District 19,
which includes a portion of Lake and Porter counties.
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