SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Police and prosecutors will be able to charge child sexual predators at any time under newly enacted legislation sponsored by state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, which closes a loophole that allowed former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert to avoid prosecution for sex crimes he committed decades ago.

“There should be no statute of limitations for crimes committed against children, and eliminating statutes of limitations will ensure law enforcement and prosecutors can hold people accountable for their crimes,” Harper said. “The mental and emotional toll that is experienced by survivors is unimaginable, and this new law will ensure that survivors can report the crime, no matter how much time has passed, providing them with the opportunity to receive the justice in court they deserve.”

Harper’s Senate Bill 189 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. The legislation was introduced after Dennis 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.

Harper’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 until adulthood as children often avoid reporting the crime because they are either afraid of a negative reaction from their parents or of being harmed by the abuser.

“The loophole that allowed sexual predators to get away with committing their crimes is now gone,” Harper said.

Rep Sonya HarperRep Sonya Harper

6th District

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Springfield, IL   62706
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Chicago, IL  60609
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