Collins Lauds Law To Aid Sex Crimes’ Victims
State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-16th) applauded the signing last Friday of a law that removes the statute of limitations on filing charges of sexual assault or abuse when the victim was younger than 18 and when there is either corroborating physical evidence or evidence that a mandated reporter knew about the crime but failed to notify authorities.
“This law gives the gift of time to victims of horrific crimes,” Collins said. “Letting them take all the time they need to come forward may offer these victims peace and closure, could prevent a child molester from victimizing others and — most importantly — gives justice a chance.”
According to the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, most child victims are not ready to report sexual abuse until after the current 20-year statute of limitations has expired.
This means perpetrators may remain free to exploit and abuse other children throughout their lives.
There are numerous reasons child victims may not be willing to come forward and press charges, even after they are adults.
Most were assaulted or abused by a family member, and it may be difficult for them to put enough distance between themselves and their abusers — even in adulthood — to go through with a criminal prosecution.
The adult victim may need to become economically independent, relocate or undergo years of counseling before being ready to come forward publicly against the perpetrator, said Collins
Through DNA testing and forensics, physical evidence can survive and be used in a criminal prosecution years or even decades after the crime was committed, added Collins.
Prosecutors will retain discretion over whether to proceed with charges in an older case, and by requiring some corroborating evidence to be present, the new law protects against frivolous or harassing lawsuits, the senator said.
“With 33 states already having abolished the statute of limitations for at least some sex crimes against minors, there is a growing movement toward allowing these prosecutions to be initiated at any time,” Collins said. “We are realizing there is no reason not to give a solid case its day in court.” — Southwest City News-Herald