Illinois looking to help sexual assault survivors

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By Amanda Henderson, News Channel 20

A new law is aiming to catch sexual predators by making it easier for victims who have low-level warrants to report a sexual assault.

Imagine being a survivor of any assault but then being faced with a very difficult decision. Whether or not to actually report it because you are afraid you will also be arrested immediately after.

Now Illinois is looking to change that…

“We’re happy they actually put that into law. Now, we have some guidance in this,” said Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell.

The new law is something that you may see as common sense. However, it hasn’t always been required by the state.

“We want them to report these crimes. That is way more important than probably the low-level crimes they are wanted for.”

Officials are hoping that people will no longer fear coming forward about a crime happening to them if they know this olive branch is there for them.

“Talk about traffic and misdemeanor, maybe even contempt warrant, something where you’re not a threat to society. That would be the barometer we would use to take care of this warrant later,” said Campbell.

It’s a window of opportunity they are hoping will be used to help get alleged rapists off the street.

Rep. Yehiel Kalish (D) Chicago said in a statement that the law “Helps victims of sexual assault to come forward with confidence by prohibiting law enforcement from arresting survivors that report their abuse for an outstanding warrant for a low level crime was recently signed into law.”

Rep. Kalish also said “Our number one priority should be standing with survivors of sexual assault.”

Sen. Jason Barickman (R) Bloomington said, ” Victims of sexual assault shouldn’t fear being arrested when reporting the crime to police, even if they have had minor legal issues in the past.”

“The crime of the sexual assault is way more important than say a traffic warrant,” said Campbell.

It’s a motto he hopes all survivors remember so they can help those who need it.

“People understand that law enforcement, the criminal justice system will work with them and recognize that that crime to them is so much more important. But we don’t want to forget about this low-level warrant, let’s get that taken care of so we don’t have that hanging over our heads,” said Campbell.

The law will officially go into effect in June 2020.

It will not apply to those who have a warrant for violent crimes, forcible felonies as well as other select crimes.

This article originally appeared on News Channel 20.

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