SPRINGFIELD, IL — Legislation sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) providing additional protections and rights for survivors of sexual assault or abuse was signed into law on Friday.
The Survivors’ Bill of Rights fills in gaps in Illinois’ current laws and brings the state in line with federal guidelines.
“A victim of sexual assault should not have to go through any more trauma when attempting to get help,” Raoul said. “We need to protect their rights and assist them in reporting these crimes so the perpetrators can be brought to justice.”
In drafting the legislation, Raoul worked closely with Rise, a national civil rights nonprofit that worked with Congress to pass a federal Survivors’ Bill of Rights in 2016. The organization is working to create legislation in every state to protect the estimated 25 million survivors of sexual assault.
New protections for victims of sexual assault or abuse include:
· allowing them to shower at the hospital post-examination;
· allowing them to obtain a copy of the police report relating to the incident;
· allowing them to have a sexual assault advocate and a support person of their choosing present for medical and physical examinations;
· allowing them to retain their own counsel;
· prohibiting law enforcement from prosecuting the victim for a crime related to use of alcohol, cannabis, or a controlled substance based on the sexual assault forensic evidence collected;
· providing that consenting to the collection of evidence by means of a rape kit extends the statute of limitations for a criminal prosecution to maximum currently provided by law (10 years).
The law also extends the time period during which rape kits can be tested.
Currently, if a victim of sexual assault or rape does not immediately consent to having a rape kit tested, law enforcement will retain it for 5 years or, in the case of a minor, 5 years after they turn 18.
This law extends that retention period to 10 years. A victim can provide written consent for the kit to be tested anytime during that period.
Senate Bill 3404 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019.