INDIANAPOLIS – Bad things happen when underage kids drink to excess without supervision. Perhaps you’ve seen it yourself or parented a teen who learned the hard way that gathering your friends to slam dad’s vodka when he’s on vacation is a good way to get expelled. Or for today’s youth, your phone confiscated. 

A few years ago, I collaborated with Sen. Jim Merritt to amend the Lifeline Law to include assault. This law is in place for exactly these kinds of parties, where teenagers drink and possibly take drugs to excess, and injuries result. No one wants to call the police, and young people have died from a variety of injuries over the years, from fisticuffs at beach parties on the shores of Lake Michigan to falling down the stairs in Central Indiana.  

Sometimes assaults of a sexual nature happen at these parties as well. Republicans and Democrats all voted unanimously to pass a law that now essentially says, “Hey kids! If you drink underage and are assaulted at a party, and afraid to report the crime as your friends may get in trouble for drinking, don’t worry! If you report or call an ambulance, you are all are indemnified from the drinking offenses.” Now, your parent or guardian very well may punish you, but you cannot be punished by the government for underage drinking in this instance.  

We passed this law because it was truly needed, right here in happy, wholesome Indiana where binge drinking parties and assaults and injuries happen somewhere every day. 

Teens do not report these crimes for a variety of reasons. It can take years for victims of assault to feel emotionally prepared to report a crime, particularly if it is likely to be very public and controversial, and especially if it has the potential to be politicized.  

Many adults, perhaps even you, can relate to the experiences described by Judge Kavanaugh’s high school classmate Mike Judge, who wrote a book called “Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk,” detailing his life of parties and binge drinking while attending Georgetown Preparatory School. 

Of course, Mike Judge is also now cited by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as a witness to an alleged assault by Kavanaugh at such a party. There were a lot of those kinds of parties in the 80’s. And there were a lot of cases like this one we will never hear about. It is our collective responsibility to create an atmosphere where victims feel safe to report without negative consequences. 

Just because you find her report to be politicized does not render it untrue.  You may disagree with the timing, how it was reported, or the implications for the appointment process, but that does not excuse an alleged assault. Such allegations need to be worked through the criminal justice system, rather than the court of public opinion. And reports should not be leaked without the express permission of those involved. Just ask the victims involved in the Curtis Hill case. 

We need victims reporting alleged assaults when they happen so they can access the services they need in a timely manner, and so law enforcement can properly intervene.  

Will these events change the vote for Judge Kavanaugh? Doubtful. However, the less than gracious way the victim has been treated could also have negative lasting effects. 

Hale is a former state representative from Indianapolis and was the 2016  Democratic lieutenant governor nominee.