Halpin Backs Measure Giving Law Enforcement More Time to Prosecute Child Sex Predators
Responding to Dennis Hastert’s predatory past, legislation allows indefinite prosecution of abusers who target children.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Police and prosecutors will be able to charge child sexual predators at any time under legislation passed by state Rep. Mike Halpin, closing a loophole that allowed disgraced former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert to avoid prosecution for sex crimes he committed decades ago. “As a father, I watched the Hastert case in disbelief on how someone so guilty could walk away from his crimes without charges,” said Halpin. “His victims will never receive the justice they deserve, and that is because our current statute says their grief has expired.” Halpin is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 189, which removes the statute of limitations on various sex crimes against children including sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and predatory criminal sexual assault. The measure would allow law enforcement to bring charges at any time when survivors come forward or evidence is discovered. Halpin’s efforts are necessary as survivors of rape and sexual abuse are often reluctant or unable to report the crime. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nine out of 10 child sexual abuse victims are abused by someone close to them, and may be hesitant to report them. Disclosure of sexual abuse is often delayed; children often avoid telling because they are either afraid of a negative reaction from their parents or of being harmed by the abuser. This causes them to often delay disclosure until adulthood. Hastert pled guilty to illegal bank withdrawals and lying to federal law enforcement agents in 2016. The illegal withdrawals were made to an individual as hush money payments to keep past sexual misconduct from going public, but Hastert could not be charged for the sex crimes themselves because the statute of limitations had expired. “More often than not, it can take years for a victim to process and fully understand what happened to them was predatory and criminal,” said Halpin. “We need to eliminate the statute of limitations on sex crimes committed against children so that victims are old enough to have the courage and understanding to come forward.”