News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News


March 29, 2014

Silent Indiana: sex crimes under reported

New legislation calls for study of cause, extent of underreporting and its reasons

TERRE HAUTE — State Rep. Christina Hale is troubled by statistics showing that Indiana ranks among the worst in the nation when it comes to high school girls saying they’d been forced to have sex.

That concern also extends to the much broader issues of sex crimes against children.

Now, thanks to her concern and tenacity, legislation signed by the governor last week calls for a comprehensive study of these issues, the causes, the extent of underreporting and reasons for underreporting.

The legislation — an amendment to Senate Bill 227 — also calls for a study of the impact of social media and new technology on sex crimes against children.

Hale said she’s encouraged that the governor signed the bill into law and the study can now move forward. Once completed, she hopes to use the data to propose new legislation to combat the problem. She also hopes it will lead to increased reporting so that victims can be better connected with services.

“We don’t have the information we need to protect children from sexual violence in Indiana,” Hale said Friday. “This is the first step to take urgent action, and very necessary action. … Our children deserve to be safe from these kinds of crimes.”

There is no solid research in Indiana to show what is happening here. “I’m really interested in evidence-based policy and lawmaking,” she said. “We can’t create effective and efficient solutions until we understand what the problems are.”

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute will oversee and fund the study, subject to approval by its board of trustees, said Jennifer Thuma, ICJI chief counsel. The law calls for the state Department of Health to conduct it, but the two agencies are working on a memorandum of understanding, she said.

“We are excited to help with the study,” Thuma said. “Because the legislation was just signed, we are looking at it and figuring out how to go forward.”

Part of what ICJI does is support criminal justice initiatives through research, data gathering and statistics. “We think it is an important subject,” Thuma said, and once data is gathered, “We’re in a position to try to attack the problems.”

Hale said she is hopeful that the study will involve John Parrish-Sprowl, co-director of the Global Health Communications Center at IUPUI, who has expertise in conducting such a study. She is working with Parrish-Sprowl to develop a proposal to present to ICJI.

Jonathan Plucker, who previously was director of Indiana University’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, said there is enough national data to indicate “we may have a really big problem in Indiana.”

Centers for Disease Control statistics from 2010 show Indiana ranks second-worst in the nation when it comes to high school girls saying they’d been forced to have sex.

While national surveys differ, Indiana consistently ranks as one of the worst when it comes to sexual violence against women. “That tells us there is a problem. The question is what is the real scope of the problem — that’s what we don’t know,” said Plucker, now a professor at the University of Connecticut. “We need more fine grain data. That helps us figure out how we solve this.”

According to Plucker, “Given the enormity of what we think Indiana is facing, it makes sense to do a careful study of just Indiana, so policy makers, educators and social service workers can get a sense of exactly what the issue is.”

An Indiana study is money well spent, he said, and he believes the problems are solvable.

Aimee Janssen-Robinson, an assistant dean of students for student advocacy at Indiana State University, coordinates the university’s sexual violence prevention programs.

“I think it’s great we have a legislator who is saying yes, we need to study this. The only way we can appropriately work to address and prevent it is if we really understand the problem,” Janssen-Robinson said. “I hope it will lead to greater and stronger prevention efforts and funding for prevention.”

She noted that President Obama recently formed the White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault, which focuses on the problem at the college level.

Raeanna Moore, a Vigo County deputy prosecutor who deals with sex crimes, also believes the study is a good thing and that crimes such as rape tend to be under-reported.

Victims feel shame and fear no one will believe them, she said.

Many of the cases she encounters involving teen-agers tend to be the crime of sexual misconduct with a minor, “where a minor admits they volunteered to have sex with the older person. It is not forced. It would be more of what you would call statutory rape,” as opposed to forced, nonconsensual sex.

The crime of rape can be difficult to prove in court because the perpetrator will say it was consensual sex, she said. It can becomes one person’s word against the other’s.

Child molesting “is a very serious problem,” Moore said, and she believes the availability and prevalence of child pornography online is having “a huge impact.”

She believes that watching child pornography can desensitize those viewers, which makes it easier for them to molest children.

Hale praised State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), author of Senate Bill 227, as well as State Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) for their help in getting her amendment into the legislation, which expands Indiana’s Lifeline Law.

The Lifeline law provides legal protection for anyone under 21 who calls 911 to report an alcohol-related medical emergency, including sexual assault and drug overdose.

“I can’t think of a more urgent issue than protecting children from sexual predators or crimes of sexual violence,” Hale said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Body found in trailer identified as Vermillion County man

    Authorities have identified the person whose body was discovered last month in a trailer that had recently been moved from Vermillion County. Indiana State Police, using DNA testing, identified the body as that of Shane L. Sowers, 41, whose last known address was on North Sixth Street in Clinton

    July 22, 2014

  • MET072114bridge arch.jpg Troubled bridge over water

    For years, the iconic, arched foot-bridge at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College had been the backdrop for pictures of newlyweds, prom-goers and Woodsies.

    July 21, 2014 5 Photos

  • Pool construction bids, principals approved

    After more than a year of discussion, debate and planning, work on the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center at Voorhees Park is expected to begin today.

    July 21, 2014

  • MET 072114 CREATIVE LAUNCH.jpg ‘Launch’ pad for creativity

    In an effort to foster entrepreneurs to begin and grow their ideas into a start-up business in Vigo County, “Launch Terre Haute” will host a co-work open house Wednesday.

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET 072114 COFFEE SHOP.jpg Gelato at 12 Points

    Coffee and gelato are now on the menu on Terre Haute’s north side.

    July 21, 2014 5 Photos

  • Man pulled from Raccoon Lake

    Indiana Conservation divers recovered a Veedersburg man reportedly submerged Monday afternoon at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.

    July 21, 2014

  • Mall evacuated after bomb threat

    The Meadows Shopping center was evacuated about 5 p.m. Monday after police received a report of an alleged bomb threat.

    July 21, 2014

  • UPDATE: Faulty brakes blamed for bus crash

    Police in Knoxville, Tenn., confirmed Monday that a Clay County church bus involved in a fatal crash last week had faulty brakes.

    July 21, 2014

  • Police in Indy nab 2nd suspect in homicide case

    A second man has been arrested in connection with a homicide in Greene County. The Indiana State Police confirmed that Jason Lee Caldwell, 35, was arrested Monday morning by Indianapolis police.

    July 21, 2014

  • Police credit public tips for meth lab bust

    Tips from the community helped lead to the arrest of a Terre Haute woman on charges including the manufacture and possession of methamphetamine.

    July 21, 2014

  • Vigo County Council OKs tax abatements

    Two companies received final approval from the Vigo County Council Monday for 10-year real and personal property tax abatements.

    July 21, 2014

  • broadwaycrash.JPG Police: Brakes on church bus involved in fatal crash were faulty

    Investigators confirmed there was a problem with the brakes on a Clay County church bus involved in a fatal accident last week in Knoxville, Tenn.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 072014 BREEZY RIDERS.jpg Tour de force

    Pedal by pedal, a group of cyclists endured the hot summer sun and braved varying Indiana terrain on a mission to support survivors of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos

  • MET 072014 DREAM HOUSE EXT.jpg Living in a dream

    “Welcome to the dream home!”
    These were the words that greeted guests on Sunday as they entered a white, two-story home on the east side of Terre Haute.

    July 20, 2014 8 Photos

  • Lake Michigan Sunset 2.jpg MIKE LUNSFORD: Lake Michigan’s ‘Wonderful World of Color’

    Despite the beauty around us, Joanie and I thought of television as we sat on a gorgeous Michigan beach one evening last week.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos

  • Kevin Caldwell.jpg UPDATE: One suspect in homicide in custody

    Police have taken one Greene County man into custody and the search entered its second day on Sunday for the other suspect, both wanted on charges of murder and  considered “armed and dangerous.”

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Expiring term heightens the urgency of one lawmaker’s push for reform

    State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.
    The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying in-state tuition to attend state colleges and universities.

    July 20, 2014

  • Kevin Caldwell.jpg Wanted men 'armed and dangerous,' police say

    A police search entered its second day on Sunday for two Greene County wanted for murder and who are considered “armed and dangerous.”

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Moon Anniversary_Will(1).jpg Small step, big memory

    Terre Haute resident Rob Eberwein remembers  being “blown away” as he watched astronaut Neil Armstrong become the first human to walk on the moon.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos 4 Stories

  • MET 071914 PRESERVATION.jpg Group working to preserve ‘The Grove’

    Tucked into a peaceful corner of northeastern Vigo County, the Lost Creek Community Grove has seen more than 100 years of gatherings.

    July 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • MET 071914 12 BICKERS.jpg 12 Points Hotel doesn’t sell

    No new owner stepped forward to claim the historic 12 Points Hotel on Saturday.

    July 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • School board to award aquatics center bids Monday

    The Vigo County School Board on Monday is expected to award bids for the new $9.8 million Vigo Schools Aquatic Center, to be built at Voorhees Park.

    July 20, 2014

  • Silverstein_Abe.jpg Terre Haute native pivotal in race to moon

    This week’s 45-year anniversary of the historic launch of the Apollo 11 mission propelled America’s space program and on April 20, 1969, kept a promise that Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology alumnus Abe Silverstein had made to President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to put a man on the moon within a decade.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • Moon Anniversary_Will.jpg Buzz Aldrin: Where were you when I walked on moon?

    On July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin was “out of town” when the world united and rejoiced in a way never seen before or since.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • Moon Anniversary_Will(2).jpg Celebrate 45 years since first steps on moon

    Now’s the time to get moonstruck.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • Terre Haute resident Jimmy Lee Housley, 80, taking motorcycle trip across western U.S.

    Intent on accomplishing his goal of visiting 48 states by motorcycle, Terre Haute resident Jimmy Lee Housley Sr. set off recently to finish his quest.

    July 20, 2014

  • broadwaycrash.JPG Church bus in fatal crash to be tested Monday

    Brake work and new tires were reportedly part of the preparations made for a Brazil youth group’s travel to a Christian conference in Tennessee this week.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Health care company to cut 150 jobs

    Union Health System will cut 150 positions system-wide by the end of the year.
    The system includes UAP Clinic, Union Hospital in Terre Haute and Union Clinton in Vermillion County.

    July 18, 2014

  • MET071814 wil wendt:buckner.jpg ‘Gifted and talented’ ahead of the times

    Seventh graders today may not be assigned to write a 32-page term paper or read an 800-page book, but a selected group of talented seventh graders attending a Terre Haute junior high in the 1950s did.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET071814 band pennington.jpg Music at the river

    Curt Pennington is the keyboardist for the New Age Jazz Band the group the opened the Community Band Festival at Fairbanks Park Friday evening. The music continues today, starting at noon and running until 9 p.m.

    July 18, 2014 4 Photos

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Israeli Aircraft Hits Dozens of Gaza Targets Raw: Black Boxes of Downed Jetliner Turned Over Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike
NDN Video
Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010

Real Estate News