SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Survivors of sexual assault will have greater access to justice and the health care services they need under legislation supported by state Rep. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, which recently passed the Illinois House with wide bipartisan support.
“As legislators, we must work diligently to remove any and all barriers that might prevent someone from reporting sexual assault or requesting medical help for a survivor,” Villa said. “In the United States, three-quarters of assaults go unreported, leaving perpetrators to walk free without any fear of consequence and likely to commit another assault.”
Currently, an individual with a warrant for a minor crime could be arrested while he or she is in contact with law enforcement after reporting a sexual assault. Thus, a person who has been charged with misdemeanors including public intoxication, littering or simply having an unpaid speeding ticket could be arrested when police arrive in response to a reported sexual assault. House Bill 92 prohibits police from arresting someone with a warrant when responding to their request for emergency services after an assault. This legislation makes an exception if the reporting individual has a warrant for a forcible felony such as murder, sexual assault or robbery.
“Suffering a sexual assault or helping a survivor in the aftermath of an assault is a traumatic event that should be met with compassion and medical care, not handcuffs,” Villa said. “Half of the people in our country will go through this awful experience in their lifetime – that’s absolutely unacceptable. This legislation reflects Illinois’ priority of getting violent rapists off the streets over arresting victims of assault who’ve been charged with minor crimes in the past that they might not have committed.”
Villa represents the 49th District, which includes all or parts of Aurora, Bartlett, Batavia, Elgin, Geneva, Naperville, North Aurora, South Elgin, St. Charles, Warrenville, Wayne and West Chicago.