Statute of Limitations Illinois

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Statute of Limitations Illinois Powered By Docstoc
					                                          SB 1035

     Extension of Civil and Criminal Statute of Limitations
          Removing Christian Science Practitioners
                from Mandated Reporting Act
           Sponsors: Senators Collins (D), Geo-Karis (R), Hunter (D), Crotty (D)
                        Representative Brosnahan (D), Jones (D)

Support: Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Survivors Network Illinois

Description
Senate Bill 1035 contains three proposals that impact areas of Illinois law relating to child
sexual abuse. The first part modifies who is mandated to report cases of child abuse and
neglect under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (ANCRA). The second
extends the time period for criminal prosecution of child molesters, and the third part
clarifies and extends limitations on civil claims by victims of childhood sexual abuse.

Removal of Christian Scientists as Mandated Reporters
The proposed change here is minimal. The measure removes “Christian Science
practitioner” from the list of those specifically required to report instances of child sexual
abuse and neglect. The rationale is that the statute does not mandate all members of any
other faith to report child abuse and neglect Christian Science practitioners would already be
covered under the clergy provision of ANCRA. The proposal does not affect any other part
of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.

Extension of Criminal Statute of Limitations
A second proposed change would permit prosecutors to file criminal charges against child
sex offenders up to 20 years after the victim reaches the age of 18 years. Current laws permit
criminal actions only until the victim reaches the age of 28 years.

Extension of Civil Statute of Limitations
The proposed change here applies to civil claims for victims of childhood sexual abuse. If
enacted, SB1035 would permit a victim of child sexual abuse to file a civil suit against
her/his perpetrator up to 10 years after the victim reaches the age of 18, or five years after the
victim discovers the abuse and understands that s/he was harmed by the abuse. SB1035
clarifies that the statute of limitations begins to run only once the victim discovers the casual
connection between the abuse and his or her injuries. The bill also provides that the statute
of limitations does not run during a time period when the victim is subject to threats,
intimidation, manipulation or fraud perpetrated by the abuser or someone on the abuser’s
behalf.
Why a Longer Limitations Periods Are Needed

Childhood sexual abuse is, by its very nature, secret. The abuse is often the end result of a
grooming process through which the perpetrator pressures the victim to keep the abuse secret
and/or carefully selects victims whom the perpetrator believes will not tell others about the
abuse. Child molesters cause child victims psychological damage such that the child
believes that he or she has caused the inappropriate sexual advances of the adult. Most
victims internalize this belief and grow up assuming they are guilty. It is not until most
victims are well into adulthood that they come to the realization that they are victims of
crimes. By then the current statute of limitations has run and the perpetrator cannot be
prosecuted. Not prosecuting these cases allows the perpetrator to get away with the crime –
and even worse – it leaves the children of Illinois at risk. The perpetrator then moves on to a
new generation of victims.

Many other states, including Maine, California and Connecticut have recently passed lengthy
extensions to their criminal and civil statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse. Illinois
should follow the lead of these states and protect its children from sex offenders.


Clarifying Discovery

This bill reflects current psychological research and the experience of victim advocates and
therapists around the country showing that injuries from child sexual abuse usually manifest
themselves later in life. The fact that the victim remembers sexual abuse happening does not
necessarily mean that the victim knows or understands that the abuse caused his or her
injuries.

Although Illinois has long had a tolling provision in the statute of limitations for child sexual
abuse, the Illinois Supreme Court negated the impact of the provision in Clay v. Kuhl, 189
Ill.2d 603 (2000). The language in this bill reaffirms the Illinois General Assembly’s
original intent that the statute of limitations will only run once the victim understands that the
abuse caused her injuries, bringing sexual abuse tort claims into parity with other tort claims.


                               Please support Senate Bill 1035

For additional information:

Survivors Network Illinois: Barbara Blaine (312) 399-4747 or David Starrett (217) 753-
2606

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault: Polly Poskin or Lyn Schollett (217) 753-4117


                                                                                           5/8/03

				
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