11/24/2014 09:21 am ET Updated Nov 24, 2014

These Laws Let Accused Rapists Off The Hook

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On January 23, 2014, Bart Bareither walked into the Marion County Sheriff's Department in Indianapolis. The 39-year-old computer engineer confessed to having raped a nursing student nine years earlier, while he was a teaching assistant at Indiana University. "He had a sincere demeanor. His head was bowed. It was clearly eating at him; he was apologizing," recalls university detective Kimberly Minor, who was brought in to take his statement. Minor then contacted Jenny Wendt, who had been 26 at the time of the assault. She had not originally reported the crime because she thought it would be difficult to prove since she'd been on dates with Bareither. But even now, she soon learned, Bareither would not face any charges.

Indiana law classifies sexual assaults into two categories: Class A felony rape, in which an assailant causes serious bodily injury, uses deadly force, or drugs the victim; and Class B felony rape, which includes other types of sexual assault. There is no statute of limitations for Class A offenses, so charges may be filed anytime after a crime is committed. The statute of limitations for Class B offenses—like what happened to Wendt—is five years. Minor says she and the Marion County prosecutor searched for a way to bring Bareither to trial, but it was soon clear that the opportunity had passed. "I think he knew about the statute," Minor says. (Bareither did not respond to emails and calls from Mother Jones.)

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