Criminal Justice

Lawmakers Consider Bill To Enhance Child Seduction Penalties

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January 15, 2014 —

INDIANAPOLIS – Law enforcement officials could be charged with a level six felony for touching a minor under a proposed Senate bill.

Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, authored Senate Bill 43 after a series of incidents in Elkhart County in which a law enforcement officer inappropriately touched a child.

The bill says that a law enforcement officer could be charged with a level six felony if they to fondle or touch the child with intent to sexually arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of the child. The child must be 16 or 17 years old. Additionally, the officer must be at least five years older than the child.

The crime then becomes a level five felony if the law enforcement officer engages in sexual intercourse or conduct. Last year the General Assembly established a six-level felony system – with one being the highest – to replace the current A-D felony system.

Kevin Deary, the president and chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Elkhart County, testified in support of the bill. He also represented the Boys and Girls Statewide Alliance.

“Protecting and keeping children safe is our priority,” Deary said.

Deary also said that law enforcement officials “need to be held at the same standard as other public officials who deal with children, not higher, just equal.”

And Correction and Criminal Law Chairman Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, said the issue isn’t just about “police officers, it’s everyone that falls in with this professional responsibility.”

David Powell, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, testified in favor of the bill. He said he supported the bill’s creation of strict liability for officers. This means an officer could be found guilty regardless of fault.

But Young said strict liability is unnecessary.

“Strict liability does not do away with the elements. You still have to prove that they had a relationship and that the officer fondled the other person,” Young said. “The prosecutor would still have to prove these elements.”

The bill was put on hold until next week when an amendment will be made to take away the strict liability.


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