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Indiana House passes bill to close ‘rape by impersonation’ loophole; Senate to consider it

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana lawmakers are working to close a loophole in the state code: rape by impersonation.

It was dark. She was groggy and half-asleep in her boyfriend’s bed. A Purdue student said a man she thought was her boyfriend, climbed into bed with her and had sex. She and her boyfriend went to the police when it happened in 2017. Prosecutors later said the suspect admitted to what happened. Even so, the suspect was eventually acquitted.

“The loophole is that we only consider rape via by force. In that scenario, it wasn’t force, because she was deceived,” state Rep. Sharon Negele, a Republican from Attica, told News 8 on Friday.

Currently, Indiana law defines rape as intentionally having sex with someone who is forced or afraid they’ll be forced into sex. They’re not intellectually able to consent, or they’re unaware the sex is happening. Negele points to a loophole in state law.

“We also were aware that the prosecutors were not able to prosecute the individual because our law didn’t really allow that to happen. It was just, it was devastating to many of us because we just realized that there was a deficit,” Negele said.

On Thursday, House lawmakers considered Negele’s bill, which would close the loophole and make it a crime for a person to pose as someone’s normal, consensual partner.

“It makes it clear that if someone poses as someone’s normal sexual partner, they are removing the right of the victim’s consent. There’s no consent there. I know this is a fairly rare case, but I do think it’s important for it to be in our rape statute,” Negele said.

And Negele has a message for survivors of rape: “It’s an awful thing when it occurs. My message to survivors is we can heal from these horrific events. We can learn from those events and help others that experience it.”

House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the bill Thursday, by a vote of 90 to 4. That proposal is now in the hands of the state Senate.