Illinois Eliminates Statutes of Limitations on Child Sex Abuse Crimes

On August 11, 2017, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law eliminating the criminal statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse. This new law will ensure that survivors are provided with the time they need to heal and seek justice.

Studies have long shown that it takes years – sometimes decades – for victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and talk about or even realize what happened. By the time they have the courage to do so, it’s too late to press criminal charges.

“A prosecutor’s ability to seek justice on behalf of a sexual abuse survivor should not be hindered by an arbitrary stopwatch,” said Sen. Scott Bennett. “There should be no time limit on obtaining justice for the survivors of these horrendous crimes.”

The new law is not retroactive. It only applies to future cases and current ones in which the previous statute of limitations has not expired.

As a society, we must advocate that clergy be held accountable for their actions rather than protecting perpetrators. The most challenging cases of my legal career were those I filed in the '80s against the church for sexual misconduct and clergy abuse. Back then, the issue was vastly under-reported. Decades of silence is the reason I wrote my first novel, Betrayal of Faith.

While Betrayal of Faith is fictional, it highlights a real-life internal church policy that was present in my cases — conspiracy, cover-ups, false denials, and victim shaming. It follows the story of Jennifer Tracey as she sets out to expose the predatory behavior of the new parish priest and obtain justice for her two sons. In an effort to bring the sex scandal to light, Tracey hires attorney Zachary Blake and files a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the pastor and the church. Together, Blake and Tracey work to reveal the truth hidden by the secret church organization, The Coalition, who has orchestrated an elaborate cover-up to the sexual abuse.

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