Rape survivor recognized for efforts in changing law

GREENFIELD, Ind. – A rape survivor set out to change the law regarding the statute of limitations and saw Jenny's Law come to fruition. Now her hometown is recognizing her efforts during National Crime Victims' Rights Week

Jenny Wendt said a third date while she was in nursing school in central Indiana ended in her rape years ago. At the time, she said she was scared and didn't report it. Years later, her attacker confessed, but too much time had passed to prosecute him.

"He wasn't able to be charged and they said we don't know what to do when someone confesses and I said well then you make a law for that so that people know what to do because I didn't want that to happen to anyone else, again" Wendt said.

So she and State Sen. Michael Crider worked to get Jenny's Law on the books in 2015. It gives Indiana prosecutors an additional window to prosecute when new evidence is discovered or there is a confession.

"Since then I've been notified a number of times about prosecutions that have been available because of that law and so it's really a pretty satisfying thing, and that's kind of started me on the path I'm most recently working on, tracking of rape kits and that kind of thing," Sen. Crider said.

Tuesday, both were recognized by the Hancock County Prosecutor's Office for their efforts.

"We've made a lot of efforts and a lot of changes with the victim's advocacy program as well as with the stop grant prosecutor to focus on these cases. And really Jenny's been the good angel on my shoulders she was the one who really inspired me to make the change and to see that it got done," Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said.

Eaton said to him, Jenny is his hero.

"And that's kind of proof that no matter where you come from and no matter what happens to you, you can make a difference and you can do it and you can really make a positive difference for those people around you in your community," Eaton said.

Wendt's hometown community of Greenfield also recognized her. The city declared Tuesday Jenny Wendt Day and the week National Crime Victims Week.

"Having a young lady like this come forth is not only with just her effort but think of the victim's she's going to help," Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell said.

While Sen. Crider now works on steps to improve the tracking system for DNA kits for sexual assault and Jenny's Law continues to help, she's continuing to provide hope to other crime victims.

"Try to not let that one moment, one decision of someone else kind of rule your life or change you in any way, as hard as it is you have to find the tools that you need to be able to move on so that this doesn't own you forever," Wendt said.