CHICAGO (CBS) — Pointing to former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s admission he molested boys decades ago when he was a teacher and wrestling coach, Illinois lawmakers have passed legislation to do away with the statute of limitations on child sex crimes, and Gov. Bruce Rauner has vowed to sign it.
Hastert is serving a 15-month prison term for violating banking laws to cover up hush money payments to one of his victims. At his sentencing, he admitted to sexually abusing boys when he was a teacher at Yorkville High School. However, prosecutors were not able to charge him with sex abuse, because his crimes did not come to light until after the statute of limitations had passed.
One of his victims, Scott Cross, testified at an Illinois Senate hearing last year, urging lawmakers to eliminate the statute of limitations on child sex crimes. Cross was only 17 when he was abused by Hastert in the 1970s.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also had testified in favor of the legislation. She said child sex crimes often go unreported for years, because the victims either feel ashamed, or because the abuser is often someone close to them.
“It is almost always somebody in a position of trust, because that’s how they are able to develop that relationship,” Madigan said.
Cross said, “That’s why you don’t say anything.”
“You remain silent. You know these people too well, and it becomes it’s my word against his; and you’re so, so hesitant to speak out to anybody, because of the trust factor,” Cross said.
[graphiq id=”i7a2a2WFfyl” title=”Child Abuse Victims that Suffered Sexual Abuse” width=”600″ height=”545″ url=”https://sw.graphiq.com/w/i7a2a2WFfyl” frozen=”true”]
Under current law, in most cases of child sex offenses against children, they must be prosecuted within 20 years of the victim turning 18.
The Illinois Senate approved legislation to eliminate that statute of limitations by a 54-0 vote in March. The legislation cleared the Illinois House on Thursday by a 112-0 vote. The governor has said he’ll sign it when it reaches his desk.