ILLINOIS — There’s a push to change child sex abuse laws in light of the case against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Senator Scott Bennett (D) and Attorney General Lisa Madigan want to remove the statute of limitations for felony sex abuse and sex crimes against children.

For the first time, Scott Cross, who says he was molested by Hastert, gave testimony. Cross told a state Senate subcommittee the state needs to end the statute of limitations on sex abuse against children.

“Unbelievably hard to step forward and confront a person of power and trust and somebody that you idolized and respected.”

By the time Cross came forward to police, the state’s time requirement on sex crimes against children had run out. Bennett says this is something the state needs to put as a priority.

“Finally, years later, when the truth comes out, he’s going to prison; not for the crimes he committed against children, but for bank fraud. That just doesn’t seem right.”

Joining Bennett in this fight is Madigan. Madigan says more than 90% of sexual abuse cases are committed by an adult the child knows, making it that much harder for the victim to report to law enforcement.

“A person is left with shame and guilt about what happened and it often takes a very long time, sometimes a lifetime, for that person to recover.”

Bennett says he’s hopeful his plan will be put to a vote this November when lawmakers return. Four different measures are now before lawmakers which would remove the statute of limitations.

“It’s most important that their stories are able to be told and we hold these people accountable for these crimes.”

The defense argues it can be difficult to prosecute someone who may not remember the crime or their alibi for something which happened 30 – 50 years ago.

Current law requires victims to come forward within 20-years of their 18th birthday.

No votes were taken during Tuesday’s hearing. The soonest the bills can be considered is next month when lawmakers return for a brief session.

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