SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Legislation passed by state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, which would close a loophole that allowed disgraced former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert to avoid prosecution for sex crimes was recently signed into law.
“It is outrageous and unacceptable that Dennis Hastert was able to evade punishment for the crimes he committed against his students,” said Halpin. “By providing law enforcement the tools they need to put criminals who target children behind bars, this new law will improve the safety and security of our communities.”
Halpin 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.
Halpin’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 the incident. 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.
“As a father, I take crimes against children very seriously, and I do not believe that a survivor should be denied justice because someone thinks too much time has passed,” said Halpin. “No one who commits such disgusting offenses against children should ever escape accountability for their actions, regardless of the amount of time it takes for victims to come forward.”