SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Police and prosecutors will be able to charge child sexual predators at any time under legislation passed by state Rep. Katie Stuart, closing a loophole that allowed disgraced former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert to avoid prosecution for sex crimes he committed decades ago.
“Even though the judge called him a ‘serial child molester,’ former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was only sentenced to 15 months’ jail time due to laws that allow child abusers to walk free,” said Stuart. “As a mom and teacher, this makes me sick. I co-sponsored Senate Bill 189 to remove the statute of limitations for child sex crimes, giving law enforcement the ability to bring these perpetrators to justice and victims the closure and justice they deserve.”
Stuart co-sponsored Senate Bill 189, which removes the statute of limitations on various sex crimes against children including sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and predatory criminal sexual assault. The measure would allow law enforcement to bring charges at any time when survivors come forward or evidence is discovered.
Stuart’s efforts are necessary as survivors of rape and sexual abuse are often reluctant or unable to report the crime. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nine out of 10 child sexual abuse victims are abused by someone close to them, and may be hesitant to report them. Disclosure of sexual abuse is often delayed; children often avoid telling because they are either afraid of a negative reaction from their parents or of being harmed by the abuser. This causes them to often delay disclosure until adulthood.
Hastert pled guilty to illegal bank withdrawals and lying to federal law enforcement agents in 2016. The illegal withdrawals were made to an individual as hush money payments to keep past sexual misconduct from going public, but Hastert could not be charged for the sex crimes themselves because the statute of limitations had expired.
“No one who abuses children should be able to walk away without punishment, especially if they get their freedom through a loophole in the law,” Stuart added. “This bill ensures that perpetrators who commit the most heinous crimes against children are held accountable.
The measure received bipartisan support in the House and Senate, and now awaits the governor’s signature before becoming law.