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Bill to eliminate statute of limitations for all Indiana sex crimes likely to change

A screenshot of a livestream of a Senate committee hearing. Carissa Siekman stands at a lectern, wiping her eye as she tears up while speaking. Siekman is a White woman with brunette hair, wearing a green jacket of a gray shirt.
Screenshot of
Carissa Siekman testified in front of the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee about the need to eliminate the statute of limitations for sex crimes.

Sexual violence survivors told lawmakers Tuesday why they should support a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for all sex crimes.

A Senate committee is expected to vote on SB 151 next week — and the measure will likely change.

The Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking said some research indicates 1 in 3 Indiana women and 1 in 12 men will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes.

But prosecuting most sex crimes in Indiana has to happen within five years of the crime being committed. The five-year clock restarts upon the discovery of DNA evidence, a recording of the crime or a confession. And if it’s a crime against a child, the statute of limitations runs until the victim turns 31.

Carissa Siekman told lawmakers she was raped when she was 18 and her sister was raped at age 13. She said eliminating the statute of limitations is about ensuring survivors can seek justice.

“We must allow victims the time to care for themselves in order to address trauma that they endured,” Siekman said. “To expect a child at 13 years old to navigate the justice system is just cruel.”

READ MORE: How do I follow Indiana’s legislative session? Here’s your guide to demystify the process

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Joel Wieneke from the Indiana Public Defender Council said the bill is too broad, encompassing some crimes — such as sexual battery — that are the lowest felony level.

“Memories fade. Evidence gets stale,” Wieneke said. “The actual validity of the prosecution becomes questionable.”

Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee Chair Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis) said he will look to narrow the bill to Level 3 felony sex crimes and higher — which would include rape and child molestation.

Whichever crimes the bill eventually includes, it can still only affect crimes for which the statute of limitations has not already expired, as well as all new crimes after the bill would take effect.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.