Commentary by Jerry Torr
In the court system, those involved in cases often give depositions, which are out-of-court statements provided under oath. Often, depositions involve a verbal examination followed by cross-examination from the opposing side. While this step helps those involved in court cases prepare for trials, it also causes child victims of sex crimes additional trauma as they tell their stories over and over again. At times this happens with the alleged perpetrator in the room. This session, I am sponsoring a proposal for a new law that would help prevent these children from being subjected to the trauma of discovery depositions, except in certain circumstances.
With Senate Bill 206, the procedures for depositions for any victim of a sex crime who is aged 16 years or younger would be modified. The defense counsel would still have access to forensic interviews, which are conducted by trained professionals and video recorded, and the right to confrontation in a trial setting as provided by the U.S. Constitution.
Currently, if child is assaulted by multiple perpetrators, each of their attorneys could make that child endure separate depositions. These young victims should not have to continuously restate and discuss the terrible acts they experienced.
The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council supports this proposal, with its Executive Director Chris Naylor stating, “Senate Bill 206 is a strong step forward for child victims who shouldn’t have to re-live their traumatic experience over and over again.”
With the Senate recently approving this proposal in a 49-1 vote, it is now heading to the House of Representatives for consideration. It is my honor to team with State Rep. Donna Schaibley of Carmel to sponsor this bill and take it across the finish line on behalf of Hoosier children.
State Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) represents House District 39, which includes portions of Hamilton County.