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State law would encourage students to report sexual assault on college campuses

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Mar. 8, 2016)-- An Indiana lawmaker is leading the charge to combat sexual assaults on college campuses.

Rep. Christina Hale (D-Indianapolis) introduced legislation to protect victims of sexual assault when they report it on campus.

One in five young women is sexually assaulted on college campuses in Indiana and around the country.

"But we have a terrible problem in that they're just not reporting. That means we can't connect them with the services they need. We also can't secure the prosecutions to get the perpetrators off the streets," said Rep. Hale.

House Bill 1105 will ensure victims of sexual assault on college campuses can file a confidential report of the incident. As it stands, anything currently told to a victims' advocate becomes part of public record.

"So they can't go in confidence to tell them their story and everything they need to do without fear everything will come out in public or in a court of law later on," said Representative Hale.

IUPUI undergraduate student body president Niki Dasilva has joined with the entire student government and campus resources to keep this uncomfortable conversation going.

"And a lot of people don't want to talk about while it happens to women it does happen to men. It happens to transgenders. It happens to people in the LGBT community," said Dasilva.

The students work through the national "It's On Us" campaign that urges everyone to step in if they see someone in an unsafe situation.

"The fact that we're willing to not only talk about it but to take action against it is incredible," said Dasilva.

Another key piece of the legislation includes new exceptions to the statute of limitation for rape. Meaning if DNA, a recording, or a confession comes years later the prosecution has five years to introduce that new evidence no matter when it's found.

"So now when we find this we can restart that clock to prosecute whether its today or 20 years when you find on that dark part of the web an image of this crime that's been perpetrated against you," said Representative Hale.

The bill is on the governor's desk awaiting his signature. Governor Pence is expected to sign it. The measure would go into effect July 1.