Local authorities favor lifting time constraints on prosecuting child abusers

The Southern


Several Southern Illinois officials on the front lines of combating child sexual assault and seeking justice for victims say they agree with legislation introduced in Springfield that would lift time constraints on prosecuting alleged offenders.

“I’m for that because I think we have a seen a lot of cases where people come forward years later, in some cases even 30 years after the alleged incident,” said Williamson County State’s Attorney Brandon Zanotti. In situations where victims come forward with credible stories but after the clock has run out, Zanotti said justice isn’t being served. “It’s sad,” he said.

Current Illinois law says that prosecutors have the ability to file charges in cases where a person who was the victim of sexual abuse as a child comes forward with allegations within 20 years of his or her 18th birthday. In other words, the abuse must be reported to authorities before the victim turns 38.

Most crimes, as well as civil claims, have a statute of limitations — or the amount of time that can pass from the alleged incident to when charges can be filed or a valid lawsuit brought — with the idea that, over time, the memories’ of witnesses fade, evidence can lose value with passing years, and to establish a level of fairness for the accused.

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