The passing of Senate Bill 135
The passing of Senate Bill 135
We are petitioning on behalf of sexual abuse survivors statewide, seeking to bring Senate Bill 135 to the forefront of the Indiana legislative priorities. This bill must become law because it would represent a legal recognition of a survivor’s right to recovery on their terms—a direct defiance to the way of a life a survivor of abuse once knew.
On February 22, 2021, Emmy-award winner Kara Kenney with WRTV in Indianapolis released an investigative report, detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by former Indiana teacher, Nathan Shewell (see more: https://www.wrtv.com/news/wrtv-investigates/state-revokes-teaching-license-for-north-central-teacher-amid-misconduct-allegations
In the WRTV interview, Ashley Nation (a.k.a. Victim #1) states that it took her more than a decade to come to terms with what she endured as Shewell’s student. Olivia Castetter was also a student of Nathan Shewell, and because she had already endured sexual abuse by the time she met him, much of his behavior seemed “normal.” Ashley affirms that Shewell’s grooming was gradual and hard to recognize for what it was at the time it occurred—a phenomenon many survivors state after escaping abuse.
This level of acceptability was further reinforced by the adults entrusted with students’ well-being. Ashley and Olivia watched many peers and their parents repeatedly report Nathan Shewell to Silver Creek High School administration. Eventually, Shewell was allowed to resign when multiple allegations were made in quick succession.
At North Central and Silver Creek alike, the schools’ decisions not to address these allegations inadvertently normalized the wrongs wrought by Nathan Shewell. We are confident that this is a belief shared amongst all of his former students who have spoken out, as well as any who have yet to come forward. Ashley and Olivia state they each only were able to identify Shewell’s behavior once they became mothers in their twenties—well beyond the statute of limitations for sexual offenses in the State of Indiana.
This is why Senate Bill 135 must become law.
As many trauma and abuse survivors will attest, healing is far from a linear process. And as Ashley Nation asks, why should legislation—a piece of paper—decide when any survivor is “ready” to face their abuse? For many of us, it’s all we can do to survive the abuses we must endure, and once we’ve escaped the situation, we must focus on rebuilding our life—reliving the abuses and trauma is not our primary or immediate focus. However, Indiana law currently limits how long we have to process our trauma—experiences from our childhood, an age of innocence and naivete—which is a disgrace.
If every person has the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, why is it that we have a limited right to justice after our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness were restricted by a violation of our personal and physical safety due to abuse?
Senate Bill 135 is not a partisan issue—it is a humanitarian one. Survivors deserve more than an expiration date for justice.
Read more about Senate Bill 135 here: http://184.108.40.206/legislative/2021/bills/senate/135