The proposed bill also introduces a new offense called indiscretion, which would punish licensed teachers for having any kind of sexual contact with students ages 16-18. Teachers who were convicted of indiscretion would lose their license. Macer wants to prevent them from quietly leaving a district without appropriate punishment.
“What’s important is we have a real issue of people going from school to school and not really being considered to committing a real crime,” Macer said.
Macer emphasized that the proposal is not involved with the Romeo and Juliet law in Indiana, which allows 14 and 15 year olds to engage in consensual sexual activities with people who are no more than four years older than themselves.
“We all know that young love happens and that’s not what we’re after. It excludes that. Clearly, it does not affect it at all,” Macer said.
Under current law, child seduction is a misdemeanor. However, after multiple conversations and working with law enforcement, Macer decided to change the misdemeanor to a Level 6 Felony. A Level 6 Felony is the lowest level of felony in Indiana. The penalty involves serving up to two and a half years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
This increased punishment, according to Macer, is anything but harsh. To her, it would send the message that she wants to get across.
“Unfortunately for predators all over this country, but also sadly in this state, is they know the laws. They know a misdemeanor is simply a slap on the face and it means nothing to them,” Macer said. “We need to make sure we have something solid in place. We need to do a better job in preventing these kinds of crimes.”
For Macer, similar to the decision to change the level of felony, the reason for raising the age of consent was based on common sense.
“The legal age of being an adult in the state of Indiana and in this country is 18. We think that it really brings it up to where is should be,” she said. “It just makes common sense for us to look out for the children of Indiana, and by this, until they are 18 years old.”
In the end, Macer said the overall reason for the proposed bill is deeper than just convictions.
“It’s not just about prevention. It’s not just about someone going to jail. That’s the obvious of why we’re doing this,” she said. “We want people to be held accountable. We want them to be charged with a crime that sticks to them and that they can’t just go somewhere else to commit these crimes.”
Macer met with Attorney General Curtis Hill Tuesday to discuss the proposed changes to the felony charge. The bill is expected to be assigned to committee in the coming days.
Since last summer, Rep. Karlee Macer, D-Indianapolis, has been working on a bill to change the age of consent from 16 to 18 years old.