Lawmakers OK bill stretching statute of limitations for rape cases

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 20, 2015) – Indiana state lawmakers Tuesday took the next step in extending the statute of limitations in certain rape cases from five to ten years.

Supporters say it’s a small step in the right direction, but for some rape victims, it’s too small of a step, they say the bill doesn't go nearly far enough.

"I made the mistake when I was raped in 2005 by not reporting,” said Jenny Ewing, a rape victim who testified at Tuesday’s Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee hearing.

Ewing’s story inspired the bill heard by the committee.  She said in 2005, as a student at IUPUI she was raped.  She never reported it and almost a decade later, her rapist confessed.  Prosecutors though claimed it was too late.  The statute of limitations in Indiana requires action within five years of an assault.

"Time can be a problem but when someone commits a crime such as this, it never does go away for the person,” said Ewing.

"It opens a window of opportunity, an additional five year window of opportunity in which prosecutors then have the ability to evaluate the merits of the case,” said State Senator Michael Crider (R – Greenfield).

Crider authored the bill that would allow ten years to prosecute rape cases if DNA evidence is identified, or the rapist comes forward.

"Rapists aren't coming forward and freely confessing so it just seems backwards,” said rape victim, Joy Ryder.  Ryder thinks the law doesn't go far enough.

"It's a feel good law,” said Keith Morris.

At 15, Morris says he was raped by his church pastor.  Like many young victims he was ashamed and afraid to come forward.  Now, two decades later, it's far too late to prosecute his rapist.  He says time shouldn't matter and that Crider’s bill does not go far enough.

"It makes lawmakers look good. We need a no statute of limitations law, period,” he said.

Another senate bill has been introduced that looks to repeal the statute of limitations entirely for rape cases.  Lawmakers say that bill however, likely will not pass.

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