By Illinois Radio Network
SPRINGFIELD – A new law will remove the statute of limitations for sexual assault crimes in Illinois.
Lawmakers passed House Bill 2135 this spring. Oswego state Rep. Keith Wheeler introduced the measure in the House. Aurora state Sen. Linda Holmes introduced the Senate version. The law will remove the statute of limitations for the prosecution of sexual assault crimes against adults.
General Counsel for the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Sarah Beuning said the new law was “a very big deal in the message it sends to survivors about how serious sexual assault is as a crime.”
Beuning said the existing statute of limitations required sexual assault victims to report the crime to law enforcement within three years and allowed prosecutors up to ten years to file charges against the offender.
“What the House Bill 2135 change will mean is that there are no limitations on when survivors can come forward,” she said.
The new law applies to sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse against adults. A previous state law removed the statute of limitations in sexual assault crimes involving children in Illinois.
Beuning said removing the statute of limitations was important for victims.
“Survivors are not ready to come forward immediately,” she said. “They may now be ready after three years or ten years. And so, this gives the potential opportunity for survivors to seek justice on their timeframe when they’re ready to come forward.”
The change in the law means that a crime that could be prosecuted Jan. 1 will no longer have a statute of limitations. The law does not change anything for crimes where the statute of limitations previously expired.
“So, it won’t bring back to life [cases] for which the statute of limitations has already passed,” Beuning said.
House Bill 2135 was unanimously approved by both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois State Senate.
Illinois Radio Network can be reached at News@WJBC.com.