Courts
Jonathan Miano, The Times

The antiquated farce of an Indiana law making it legal for adults to have consensual sex with 16-year-old minors is now on full display for the world to see and judge.

The sanctity of our children is at stake in rectifying the situation.

Indiana law states that the age of sexual consent is 16 but also defines minors as being younger than 18.

Among a number of inappropriate doors the law leaves open is the reality that adults can legally have sex with 16-year-olds, but it's a crime to text, provide or otherwise transmit a sexually explicit photo to anyone younger than 18, or even possess the image.

A person who knowingly transmits a sexually explicit photo to a minor (younger than 18) in Indiana is committing a felony, under Indiana law.

An adult who has sex with a 16-year-old, meanwhile, isn't breaking the law if the sex is consensual.

It doesn't take a high-court ruling for any of us to know this is patently wrong.

But a recent ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court is bringing the matter to light.

In a 5-0 ruling, the court acknowledged an inconsistency in the law when ruling Sameer Girish Thakar, of Fishers, should face trial for allegedly sending a sexually explicit photo of himself in 2014 to a 16-year-old girl in Oregon.

Thakar had argued that the situation was consensual and that the case should be tossed.

The high court disagreed, noting the difference in applying the age definitions of both state laws.

The issue here, of course, isn't that Thakar shouldn't face trial for such allegations. Clearly he should.

Under no version of reality, however, should society or its laws view it as permissible for an adult to engage in sexual acts with a vulnerable, developing teenager.

The problem has been on display locally in a case involving a former Porter County police officer, who faces charges of child pornography.

Former officer Roger Bowles, 56, is accused of possessing nude photos of a 17-year-old girl with whom he allegedly was having a sexual relationship. He faces felony charges for possessing the images, but the alleged sex acts themselves are permissible under state law.

Recent legislative attempts to raise Indiana's age of sexual consent to 18, which no thinking person should oppose, were led in part by state Sen. Frank Mrvan and state Rep. Linda Lawson, both Hammond Democrats.

Those attempts have failed to advance in the Indiana General Assembly, and our state leaders should be ashamed.

In a few months, our lawmakers begin a new session, and fixing this glaring social and moral problem should be at the top of the list of no-brainers.

In recent years, our General Assembly has made great strides in furthering issues important to our children, including opening the door to all-day kindergarten and funding preschool for our state's neediest early learners.

But claims of a child-friendly Hoosier state will ring hollow as long as state law holds that adults having sex with 16-year-old minors is legal.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase, Editor Bob Heisse, Politics/History Editor Doug Ross and Managing Editor Erin Orr.