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Senate seeks to protect abuse victims

Seeking to give victims of child abuse additional time to report the crime, the Senate advanced legislation March 29 that would eliminate the statute of limitations on certain sexual abuse crimes against a minor.

Senate Bill 189 was approved by the Senate unanimously, and proponents say the bill will help prevent child predators from escaping justice. Frequently, victims of child sexual crimes require years to come to terms with the abuse. If signed into law, the measure would enable greater numbers of individuals who had been victimized as children to come forward.  Advocates also noted that eliminating the statute of limitations will encourage state’s attorneys to investigate old claims, even if they decide not to bring charges against the accused.

The proposal eliminates the statute of limitations on the prosecution of child sex crimes in cases where the victim is younger than 18 at the time of the offense, to allow for prosecutions of criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or felony criminal sexual abuse.

Senate Bill 189 removes a current requirement that corroborating physical evidence be available, or that an individual who was required to report an alleged or suspected commission of any of these offenses under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act failed to do so.

Currently, under Illinois law, in child sex cases where corroborating physical evidence is available, or if an individual who was required to report the alleged or suspected commission of any of these offenses under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act failed to do so, a prosecution can take place at any time.

However, if those circumstances aren’t met, and the victim is younger than 18 at the time of the offense, a prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or felony criminal sexual abuse, or a prosecution for failure of a person who is required to report an alleged or suspected commission of any of these offenses under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, may be commenced within 20 years after the child victim attains 18 years of age (before the victim’s 38th birthday). When the victim is younger than 18 at the time of the offense and the prosecution is for misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse, the prosecution must be commenced within 10 years after the victim becomes 18.

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