The Illinois State Senate unanimously approved legislation Tuesday 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, will now go to Governor JB Pritzker to be signed into law.
“This is an important victory for women and victims of sexual assault across Illinois,” Representative Wheeler said. “Advances in DNA testing have made it possible to solve decades-old cases with evidence that wasn’t available at the time. The statute of limitations has already been removed for sexual assault and abuse crimes for victims under the age of 18. With Governor Pritzker’s signature, we will now extend the opportunity for justice to every victim of sexual assault in Illinois.”
Michelle Meyer, Executive Director of Mutual Ground, Aurora’s leading provider of services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, had this to say about the bill’s passage: “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 unanimously. I would like to thank Representative Wheeler for helping to offer justice for the many adult victims of sexual violence who need it”.
The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) also expressed support for the bill when it was approved by the House of Representatives back on April 4:
“The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault applauds the passage of HB 2135 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’.”
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.
House Bill 2135 was sponsored in the State Senate by Senator Linda Holmes, D-Aurora.
For questions or more information, please call Representative Wheeler’s office at (630) 345-3464.