Rep. Karlee Macer, D-Indianapolis, is proposing a bill for the second time to raise the age of consent in Indiana from 16 to 18 years old.
Macer said her goal with this proposal is to protect young women and men from exploitation.
“I know there are other legislators around the country who are doing what I’m doing,” Macer said. “Which is doing more work to protect our young people from being solicited in such a way.”
House Bill 1111 would add “indiscretion” as a criminal offense, which would be filed against a person who is at least 23 years old engaging in sexual intercourse or sexual conduct with an individual under the age of 18.
One of Macer’s reasons for raising the age of consent is sex trafficking.
“With the age of consent law in the state of Indiana, a lot of time through social media, they are able to groom our children,” Macer said. “They’re able to lure them into an industry that is consensual. That is another piece that I think is really important.”
Macer said she feels the bill may have more a chance to get a hearing this year because of an Indiana Supreme Court case in which 40-year-old Sameer G. Thaker was charged with a felony for sending a sexual image to a 16-year-old.
“He was charged with a felony, but if he had sex with her, it would not be a crime at all,” Macer said.
She said Justice Mark Massa, in his written opinion, acknowledged the law’s inconsistency.
“I hope, sadly, that that will be something that will encourage more conversation about the age of consent,” Macer said.
Macer said that her proposal will not impact the current “Romeo and Juliet law” in Indiana, which protects adults from facing criminal charges for having a sexual relationship with their underage partner within a four-year age range. She said she feels the law is important to young relationships.
“I am in no way, shape or form trying to affect young love,” Macer said.
Macer worked on the legislation with Reps. Dave Ober, R-Albion; Ryan Hatfield, D-Evansville; and Linda Lawson, D-Hammond. She said she is also working with law enforcement and other leaders to help the bill pass.
“I hope that there is an opportunity to get this passed and to recognize how important it is that we truly advocate for our children,” she said.
Emily Ketterer is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.