Lawmakers look to lift statute on child sex crimes
WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill. – Illinois lawmakers are taking action to increase prosecution of child sexual abuse. The state is looking to do away with the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children.
Right now, prosecution of those crimes has to start within a year of the victim’s 18th birthday.
But a measure sailing through the legislature would open up the door for victims to step up at any time.
Young victims of sexual assault may never confront their accuser in a courtroom.
“Perpetrators do a lot of things to children to convince them that there’s nothing wrong with this,” said Betti Mucha, with the Perry-Jackson Child Advocacy Center.
Mucha said it’s because fear and guilt stand in the way. The abusers keep kids and young adults from speaking out.
“When they realize what’s happened to them, they want something done about it,” said Mucha.
Often after years of counseling victims come to terms with their abuse. But sometimes by then it’s too late to go to court.
Illinois lawmakers hope to change that.
A bill lifting the statute of limitations passed the Illinois House and sits in the Illinois Senate.
“Someone who has done something despicable like harm a child should not be able to get off scot-free simply because some random or arbitrary deadline for bringing a case against them has expired,” said Rep. John Bradley.
Jackson County State’s Attorney Michael Carr said crucial to securing a conviction would be other witnesses who may have known about or seen the abuse.
“It’s a great step if there is corroboration already,” he said.
Carr believes the legislation, if passed, could send a message that crimes against children won’t go unpunished, no matter the amount of time.
The measure unanimously passed the Illinois House. It’s in committee in the Senate.
Originally printed at http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/home/ticker/Lawmakers-look-to-lift-statute-on-child-sex-crimes-200961521.html
By Reporter – Kendall Downing
April 1, 2013