SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday signed two bills aimed at protecting victims of sexual assault.
One of these new laws allows victims to file a complaint, even if they were voluntarily intoxicated at the time of the attack. Another expands where survivors can access treatment and for how long, while requiring qualified federal health centers to provide forensic services by trained professionals.
“We can’t have a justice system that re-traumatizes people who need to use it,” Pritzker said at a bill-signing ceremony in Chicago. “Yet this has been the reality for far too long.”
House Bill 5441 closes what many have called a “loophole” in existing law that prevented victims from filing charges if they were intoxicated at the time of the attack but the intoxicant was not administered by the accused.
It inserts new language into the law which states that a person is incapable of knowingly giving consent while intoxicated if they are “unconscious of the nature of the act, and that condition was known or should reasonably have been known to the accused”, even if the accused did not administer the substance.
This language was inspired by a young woman, Kaylyn Anh, who explained while signing the bill how she was raped by someone she knew in July 2021 after intentionally intoxicating herself at a friend’s house.
Three months after the attack, she said, she reported it to the police, but was told they would not investigate the incident because, under Illinois law, it did not constitute rape.
“He told me there was absolutely no way the prosecutor would take my case,” she said. “When I asked him if there were any other legal options to pursue, he said, ‘The only thing you can do now is just try not to let this happen again and move on. . It is my provocative refusal to do so.
Senate Bill 3023 amends the Sexual Assault Victim Emergency Treatment Act, which governs the health care hospitals are required to provide to victims of sexual assault. It doubles the time a victim can access care under the law to 180 days and ensures that victims seeking treatment will have access to a qualified medical examiner as well as other trained medical personnel. care for victims of sexual assault.
It also authorizes the Department of Public Health to designate up to six federally licensed health centers, located in geographically diverse areas of the state, to develop sexual assault treatment plans and offer on-site services. during their normal business hours. It also requires them to hire a Sexual Assault Nurse Coordinator Examiner.
“Sexual assault survivors need the system to work much better for them to seek and receive health care services while they process the trauma they’ve been through,” said Sen. Mike Simmons, D -Chicago, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said in a statement. “This measure brings a significant improvement by removing costs, bills and increases the time frame in which survivors can access treatment.”
Both bills were passed unanimously by both houses of the General Assembly earlier this year.