030216CM0460RSCHAMPAIGN- State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) has been tasked with leading the Senate’s committee on Statutes of Limitation. The focus will be on evaluating statutes of limitation for felony criminal sexual abuse and sex crimes against children.

Possible issues with Illinois’ current statutes came to light due to developments involving former Republican U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who admitted in court that he sexually abused teenage boys when he was a wrestling coach in Yorkville.

“The committee will take some time to study and assess pending legislation to figure out whether they are fair and essential,” Bennett said. “It’s important for government to evolve with the needs of the people.”

During Hastert’s trial, Judge Thomas Durkin noted that Hastert avoided serious legal consequences because of current statutes of limitation in Illinois’ state courts.

Statutes of limitation restricts the time during which authorities can charge someone with a crime after it occurs.

This spring Bennett introduced an initiative to remove the statute of limitations for felony criminal sexual abuse and sex crimes against children, which allows for the prosecution of these offenses at any time.

“We need to find ways to better protect our children,” Bennett said. “At times, victims of abuse need time to find courage to address these horrific crimes. Our goal is to give them the option to confront their abuser when they are ready.”

Under current law cases similar to the charges brought against Hastert, victims must report cases of abuse within 20 years after they have turned 18.  

The bipartisan committee will hear Bennett’s measure Senate Bill 3402 along with others.

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