South Dakota House committee ends Jolene's Law

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SIOUX FALLS - People battling against child sexual abuse suffered a setback Wednesday.

After passing in the senate, a house committee denied funding to support their mission, but they're not giving up the fight.

KSFY News spoke with the woman whose name Senate Bill 71 carried, Jolene Loetscher.

It was her own experience with abuse as a teenager which inspired, Jolene's Law.

It was first created during the 2014 legislative session, but a task force to study the effects of child sexual abuse in South Dakota ends after only one year

"I was in shock, I was in absolute shock. I didn't understand how anyone could vote against studying an issue and stopping a crime that literally rips the soul out of a child," Loetscher said.

That's what happened to Loetscher, and why she lent her voice to help others.

"When you stand in front of a group of people, and no matter how many times you do it, you disclose the darkest and most horrible parts of your life, and then you're given a message that that doesn't matter. it breaks you again," Loetscher said.

Jolene believes the vote by the House State Affairs Committee to end the Jolene's Law Task Force sends a disturbing message from Pierre.

"We support rapists. We support pedophiles. We don't care for the children out there who are suffering in pain, and will live with the rest of their life with the consequences of these crimes, instead, we're going to just let this issue go to the side," Loetscher said.

Loetscher was not alone in her fight.

"Senator Soholt is an amazing warrior in the fight to protect children, especially against these types of crimes, and she said we need to study this, and we need to make a task force to deal with it," Loetscher said.

While the law was named after Jolene, she says it's not about her.

"It was about giving a bill to give hope. It was about making legislation, and making change in this state that would make us a national leader in protecting children and familes," Loetscher said.

"We're still in a lot of shock. I don't know what the next step looks like, but I can guarantee you that we're going to be loud, because there are some many out there who can't be," Loetscher added.

Six years ago, Loetscher tried to kill the pain of abuse with a bottle of pills, but when she woke up the next morning, she knew she had a purpose.

Loetscher tells us the task force would have helped others like herself realize they're not alone and that there are people whom they can turn to for help.