INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House voted 92-0 Monday to make it easier for rape victims who become pregnant through the attack to prevent contact between the rapist and his child.
House Bill 1064, sponsored by state Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, creates a process to terminate the parental rights of an alleged rapist who fathers a child with the victim, even if the perpetrator is not convicted of a criminal rape charge.
"It's hard to believe that in the state of Indiana where a child is conceived in rape, the rapist can pursue custodial rights," Slager said.
Under his plan, a rape victim who gives birth to her attacker's child can request a civil court judge terminate the rapist's parental rights if the judge finds "clear and convincing evidence" of rape, a lower standard than "beyond a reasonable doubt" required in criminal cases.
A rape victim would have six months after giving birth to file the petition. If the victim is younger than 18 years old, the victim would have two years to seek termination after turning 18.
Slager said the timeline is intended to discourage false rape claims connected to divorce-related child custody disputes.
"Some victims' groups don't like that, but the benefit of this rule is that hopefully it will encourage reporting," Slager said. "Because quicker reporting and dealing with this issue sooner than later will be beneficial for all parties."
The legislation, co-sponsored by state Reps. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, and Michigan City native Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis, will be shepherded in the Senate by state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso.