INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers who are victims of domestic or sexual abuse are to receive stronger protections under a bill that was ceremonially signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

One of the provisions of Senate Bill 551 expands the list of offenses that may be prosecuted before a victim reaches the age of 31, including child molesting and incest.

The law also allows parents to seek a protective order on behalf of a child against someone who engages in a sexual grooming activity such as making repeated suggestive remarks to a child.

“That’s a significant loophole in the law that law enforcement has not been able to use against child predators. That is a good tool for us,” Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said. Cummings, who attended the bill signing, called the legislation “a good bill for victims.”

The author of the legislation, Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper), has said that the bill “would impact every Hoosier community by working to better protect and respect the privacy of victims and ensure offenders are justly punished for their actions.”

The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council supported the bill.

The legislation also restricts disclosure of sensitive information about victims of child abuse and the accused during criminal investigation or prosecution of the case.

Among other measures, the law also addresses a gap in current kidnapping and criminal confinement laws by creating an offense when the kidnapping or criminal confinement results in moderate bodily injury to the victim. Current law only provides for offenses that include bodily injury or serious bodily injury.

The legislation also eliminates the current practice where an offender who is convicted of felony domestic battery has the ability to reduce the penalty to a misdemeanor and it toughens penalties on strangulation charges. The bill also has a provision that changes how victims of crimes are identified, doing away with the use of victim initials in official documents.

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