To reform the reporting of sexual offenses for victims unaware of a sexual crime—due to circumstances such as a drug-induced or unconscious encounters—legislation sponsored by State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) extends the statute of limitations to allow for the prosecution of a sexual offense committed against an adult within one year after the victim’s discovery.
The State Senate unanimously approved the criminal law measure on May 10.
“In cases prosecuting sexual offenses and assaults, ‘discovery’ should no doubt begin from when the victim discovers the crime, not from the day it was committed,” said Tracy. “The statute of limitations should take into account the cases when an individual was not conscious or mentally present to know the crime was committed—and we are all aware these cases happen and should be treated fairly like every sexual assault case.”
Senate Bill 2271 corrects an anomaly in the existing statute of limitations, because currently no provision exists to address sex crimes that are “later discovered” by the victim. Tracy’s measure allows for the state of Illinois to prosecute for a sexual crime against an adult that falls within one year of the victim’s own discovery if physical corroborating evidence is available—rather than a set time frame from time was committed.
The legislation was introduced as a result of a troubling case in Adams County where a woman was unconscious during the time of a sexual assault, and evidence of the offense was discovered on the perpetrator’s computer during a search warrant for an unrelated crime. The statute of limitations for the offense committed had already expired, and the defendant could not be charged for the sex crime.
“It is incredibly disheartening we could not get justice for the resident of Adams County, especially with such incriminating evidence, but we can change the law and help others like her in the future,” said Tracy. “This is a call to action, and now I ask my colleagues in the Illinois House to push this legislation through to the Governor.”
Senate Bill 2271 now moves to the Illinois House of Representatives for consideration, and they have until the scheduled May 31 deadline to approve the bill.