The Illinois House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday introduced by State Representative Keith R. Wheeler, R-Oswego, to remove the statute of limitations on prosecuting sexual assault offenses and thereby give law enforcement and prosecutors the ability to conduct an investigation and bring charges against a suspect without a time restriction. The legislation, House Bill 2135, earned unanimous bipartisan support in a vote of 113-0.
“Advances in DNA testing have made it possible to solve decades-old cases with evidence that wasn’t available at the time,” Representative Wheeler said. “The statute of limitations has already been removed for sexual assault and abuse crimes for victims under the age of 18. Let’s extend the opportunity for justice to every victim of sexual assault in Illinois.”
At the Capitol and present for the passage of House Bill 2135 were a group of supporters from Mutual Ground in Aurora. Representative Wheeler recognized and welcomed them during his remarks. House Bill 2135 now advances to the State Senate.
“On behalf of the Board, Staff, volunteers and many individuals and families Mutual Ground serves, I would like to say how pleased I am that HB 2135 has passed through the house unanimously. I would like to thank Representative Wheeler for helping to offer justice for the many adult victims of sexual violence who need it,” said Michelle Meyer, Executive Director of Mutual Ground.
The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) also weighed in support of the bill’s passage today:
“The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault applauds the passage of HB 2135 out of the House and the leadership of Representative Wheeler in shepherding this important legislation as it makes its way to the Illinois Senate,” ICASA Executive Director Carrie Ward said. “HB 2135 will greatly benefit rape victims in Illinois by allowing them to pursue justice not matter when the assault against them occurred. Eliminating the statute of limitations enables rape victims to recover in the timeframe best for their healing. The impact of each sexually violent crime differs and many victims, because of who the rapist is or other circumstances, need additional time to report the rape. This legislation is a crucial step in helping sexual assault victims recover on their timeframe and not the rapists’. ICASA’s 30 rape crisis centers in Illinois strongly encourage every Senator to vote yes on HB 2135.”
Currently, the statute of limitations on prosecuting sexual assault is within 10 years of the commission of the offense for victims who are over the age of 18 at the time of the sexual assault, if the victim reported the offense to law enforcement within 3 years of the offense.
For questions or more information, please call Representative Wheeler’s office at (630) 345-3464.