INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An Indiana lawmaker says she intends to introduce a bill that would raise the age of consent from 16 to 18 in the state.
State Rep. Karlee Macer, D-Indianapolis, told our news gathering partners at the Indy Star the bill would give prosecutors and judges another tool to hold people accountable for preying on children.
“I think what’s happening in our state with our children right now is a crisis,” she said.
Macer said the bill would create a criminal offense called “indiscretion,” which could be filed against someone at least 23 years old who engages in sexual conduct, fondling or touching with someone who is at least 16 but younger than 18.
It is already against the law in Indiana for those in positions of power, like teachers, coaches and mental health professionals, to have sex with someone under 18. But it’s not a crime for other adults to have sex with someone as young as 16.
One opponent of the bill, Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, told the Indy Star raising the age of consent to 18 may create more problems than it solves.
“You can’t over-legislate and say you’re going to control the sexual behavior of people,” he said. “It might prevent a few abuses, but generally it doesn’t. Deterrents generally have limited effectiveness because people don’t think they’re going to be caught. It sounds like a solution in search of a problem to me.”
Indiana legislators considered raising the age of consent several years ago, but it stalled amid concerns about how the law would affect sexual relationships between younger individuals. Under current Indiana law, teenagers in ongoing relationships can have consensual sex if they are under 21 within four years of age difference.
Macer said her proposal would not affect “young love.”