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Indiana law lets rapist go free

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Indiana rape lawA man walks into the sheriff's office and confesses to raping a young woman in 2005.
In 28 states across the U.S., he would have been arrested and prosecuted. But in Indiana, Bart Bareither walked out a free man.

Why? Because in this state rape charges can no longer be filed if the incident took place more than five years ago.

Indiana is among just seven states with a statute of limitation of five years or less for filing rape charges. In 11 states, the statute of limitation is from six to nine years. In 12 others, it ranges from 10 to 20 years. And 20 states have no limit at all.

The case highlights the delicate balance between liberty and justice that plays an integral part in a criminal justice system based on the classical belief that "it is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." It also comes as some states re-examine decades-old limits on prosecuting rape and other sex crimes.

Last year, Kansas lawmakers threw out the state's five-year limit. Similar legislation is pending in Ohio, where advocates are pushing to scrap a 20-year limit.

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