Legislation May End Sexual Harassment Statute Of Limitations

CHICAGO (CBS) —   She says she’s the victim of sexual harassment by a state lawmaker. And she says she’s being victimized again.

Some lawmakers are vowing not to let Denise Rotheimerher fall victim to a flawed system.

She says a state senator acted inappropriately. The Ethics Commision didn’t act at all. And a statute of limitations could kill her complaint.

“They’ve shut me out, shut me down, they’ve silenced me. I was very angry,” said Denise Rotheimer.

Rotheimer was angry to hear that her sexual harassment complaint filed last November against Sen. Ira Silverstein was not being investigated because there’s no inspector general.

And even angrier to hear that the clock was ticking on a statute of limitations.

“Now I’m hearing that I have until the end of this month,” said Rotheimer.

A new legislative Inspector General is now expected to be named by Monday.

But would they have time to investigate Rotheimer’s complaint?

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz says new legislation will ensure all outstanding complaints are heard, even if the one year deadline has passed.

“We have to make sure there’s no wrong door for these complaints,” said Feigenholtz. “And that there will be no retaliation and that people will be punished.”

Rep. Scott Drury says the proposed legislation doesn’t go far enough.

“At the end of the day it’s just a $5,000 dollar fine for what is really egregious conduct,” said Drury.

Drury is calling for an independent special counsel to investigate such claims.

“Throughout history when bodies try to govern themselves, we find that they don’t always do the right thing,” said Drury.

“If nothing comes out of this I would hope he at least he would lose re-election or would have the dignity to resign,” said Rotheimer.

Silverstein has denied any inappropriate behavior.

And while state lawmakers have been focused on sex harassment for days now, the Cook County Democratic party today passed a resolution condemning such behavior.

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