Confessed Indiana Rapist Set Free Because of Indiana Statute of Limitations Law
An Indiana man who recently confessed to a 2005 rape cannot be prosecuted because state officials say the statute of limitations has run out.
According to an article published by the Indianapolis Star, Bart Bareither decided the time had come for him to confess to a rape he committed nearly a decade ago. So, he strolled down to the local sheriff’s department and told deputies that he was responsible for the rape of a woman in 2005.
Strangely enough, the officers were forced to let him go because, as the article in the Indy Star confirms, state rape charges cannot be filed if the incident occurred more than five years ago.
Indiana is one of only seven states across the nation with a statute of limitations of five years for rape. Eleven others range from six to nine years; 12 from 10-20 years, and in 20 states, there is no statute of limitations.
Law experts say the rationale for establishing time limits on committed crimes is two fold.
"One has to do with repose. At a certain point, a person should no longer have to fear they will be charged with a crime that occurred years ago," said Ryan W. Scott, law professor at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. "The other has to do with difficulty of proof. After a certain time, it becomes harder to get reliable evidence, physical evidence deteriorates and the memories of witnesses fade."
The victim in this case, 35-year-old Jenny Wendt, never reported the rape to authorities. However, when she learned of Bareither’s confession, she said she felt like she was getting a second chance after living for the past decade with the nightmares.
Yet, once she learned Bareither could not be prosecuted, she stated that she felt like Indiana’s laws had now victimized her. "I was completely devastated," Wendt said.
Indiana lawmakers are currently working on a major overhaul to the state criminal code, which is slated to take effect next year. Unfortunately, statutes of limitations are not covered.