Group wants strip club fee to fund programs for rape survivors

Texas' $5 fee at door brings $10M per year

INDIANAPOLIS - A local organization is asking the state to enact an adult entertainment fee in the form of a $5 tax for strip club patrons.

The Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault is asking legislators to follow the lead of other states such as Texas, where the tax brings in more than $10 million a year.

Erik Scheub, who works for INCASA, said more than two-thirds of Indiana counties offer inadequate services for survivors of sex crimes.

"We just want to expand our funding so that if somebody does get raped they can go and get the help that they need," Scheub said.  

Currently, the only state funding comes through the Sexual Assault Victims Assistance fee established in 2004, which amounts to $25,000. 

"In Indiana, our rape crisis centers are woefully underfunded," said Melissa Pershing, executive director of the Julian Center.

Most of the funding for rape crisis centers in the state comes from federal grants.

"There's a lot of dependence on federal funding," Pershing said. "We don't know where that's going. It's really critical that they have a stable funding stream so that they can help victims."

Three other states -- Texas, Utah and Illinois -- have recently enacted taxes or surcharges to provide funding for sexual abuse survivors. 

INCASA wants to Indiana to mirror the Texas model of charging $5 per person at the door of strip clubs.

One doorman at a local club said he doesn't think his customers will pay the tax, saying, this isn't Texas.

Proponents of the adult entertainment fee point to federal data, saying there is a strong correlation between adult entertainment and sexual abuse, which is why the organization believes this tax makes sense.

"There's going to be adult entertainment, and there are going to be customers for that, so why not at least tax that so that we can at least begin to have supportive services for some of the harm that helps create?" Pershing said.

RTV6 contacted more than a dozen local adult nightclubs for comment, but none were willing to talk on camera.

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