Illinois AG Madigan Calls for Elimination of Child Sex Crimes Statute of Limitations
By Sarah Schulte
April 28, 2016
On the heels of the Dennis Hastert case, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants to eliminate the statute of limitations for people accused of molesting children.
Illinois took a huge step in 2014 when the statute of limitations for sex abuse crimes was partially eliminated. However, Madigan and the victims' group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) say the law doesn't go far enough. They hope the publicity surrounding the Hastert case will push lawmakers to make more changes.
Often, it takes high profile sex abuse cases - such as Roman Catholic priests, Penn State's Jerry Sandusky and now, Dennis Hastert - to change the law. Two years ago, the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases in Illinois was abolished, but, not completely.
"You have until your 18th birthday plus 20 years to report, so after your 38th birthday, in most cases you are out of luck," Madigan said.
Madigan said it is time to lift the conditions attached to the current law and eliminate the statute of limitations for felony child sex abuse cases altogether.
"It shouldn't be that we put in place this arbitrary number of years after which you cannot seek justice, there won't investigation, there won't be prosecution, this person won't be held accountable and that is what we saw yesterday," Madigan said.
Because he is protected by statute of limitations, Hastert can never be charged with sex abuse and many of the victims will never get justice because their abusers are protected by the same law.
Experts say because most victims knew and trusted their abusers, it is common to come forward years later as adults. Hastert victim Scott Cross told his story publicly for the first time on Wednesday.
It took Bill Reidy decades to report abuse he says he endured at Loyola Academy in the late 70s.
"My father was high up in archdiocese, I didn't think if I told him he would believe me so I kinda of buried it," Reidy said.
"Just because it takes victims a long time to tell, it should not allow sexual predators to get away with crimes," said Barbara Blaine, SNAP.
The victims' group SNAP is pushing for the elimination of the statute of limitations to be retroactive, so adult victims can get justice. Unfortunately, Madigan says that is not legally possible.