Advocates say Iowa needs to catch up to Illinois on sexual assault law

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New Illinois law removes statute of limitations on sexual assault

A new Illinois law gives sexual assault survivors more time to come forward to report the crime.

Now, some local advocates say Iowa needs to catch up to it.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed HB 2135 into law last month.

It takes effect January 1st.

The law gets rid of the statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

There used to be a 10-year limit.

Iowa still has a 10 to 15-year range to report sex crimes in the state, depending on the crime and the victim’s age.

A spokesperson for Family Resources says they helped more than 550 sexual assault survivors last fiscal year on both sides of the river.

More than 200 of them were from the Illinois Quad Cities.

She says Illinois’ new law will help more people get justice.

One survivor says it’s a step in the right direction that others need to take.

About five years ago, Alison Foley’s life was shaken.

“A perpetrator broke into my home with a gun and sexually assaulted me and robbed me,” says Foley, a sexual assault survivor.

Foley’s case took almost a year to resolve, which she says is considered fast.

For her, it didn’t seem like it.

“It would’ve actually been better for my well-being if I hadn’t had to go through months of waiting and seeing what was going to happen there and pushing back the dates,” Foley says.

Emily Gordon with Family Resources says there are a lot of reasons why a survivor might not want to come forward right away.

“Some survivors are young. All of them are traumatized,” says Gordon, the Illinois director of survivor services.

“So, getting to a place where you realize, ‘This is what happened to me and this is what I want,’ can take a long time,” Gordon says.

In Illinois, they can now take all the time they need.

It’s one of only a handful of states that’s taken down it’s time limit.

Gordon says it’s time others, like Iowa, do the same.

“Why there needs to be a limit to report, I’m not sure because it’s still a crime that was committed, it’s still something that is impacting people’s lives, it doesn’t go away just because the statute of limitations has run out,” Gordon says.

Foley says legislators’ actions also have a hand in changing something even bigger– public perception.

“A lot of times there’s this, ‘Well, she’s coming forward 20 years later, she must be lying.’ But by changing that, they’re acknowledging that there’s no timetable; just because somebody is doing it 20 years after the fact doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” Foley says.

Family Resources has help available for sexual assault survivors on both sides of the river, like counseling, navigating expenses and a 24-hour hotline.

IA crisis line: 866.921.3354

IL crisis line: 309.797.1777

You can find a full list of services by clicking here.

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