Illinois Laws Concerning Criminal Sexual Abuse Could be Changing
Many states in the U.S. are taking a closer look at the laws that relate to sex crimes committed against a child. Historically, there has been a statute of limitations on instances of criminal sexual abuse of a child. However, many states have recently begun to consider new legislation that would allow prosecutors to pursue charges against suspected abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred. In Illinois, a recent high-profile case involving a congressman has brought the issue to the forefront of lawmakers’ minds.
Representative Dennis Hastert, the former Speaker of the House, was recently sentenced to 15 months in prison for financial crimes. The charges stem from his payment of $3.5 million in hush money to silence an accuser who alleged that Hastert sexually abused teens while he was a high school wrestling coach. The crimes reportedly took place decades ago.
Hastert admitted to the crimes. However, prosecutors were not able to bring criminal charges against him because the statute of limitations had expired. In Illinois, lawmakers have already waived the statute for civil cases and have also enacted legislation that waives the statute for criminal cases where there is physical evidence and documentation to support the claim.
Those in Illinois who have been accused of a sex crime against an adolescent typically have a difficult time in the legal system, even if they are innocent. With the current pending legislation, prosecutors may be able to seek charges for actions that may have occurred may years earlier. Consulting an attorney who is experienced in criminal law could help ease the process for those accused of criminal sexual abuse. An attorney can discuss the various legal options available and can advise the accused on the best path to take to ensure that his or her rights and safety are protected.
Source: usnews.com, “After Hastert, Illinois weighs change to child sex abuse law“, Ashley Lisenby, May 4, 2016