Villa legislation would expand rights for survivors of sexual assault

SPRINGFIELD – Survivors of sexual assault could track their evidence kits through the Illinois State Police sexual assault evidence tracking system and would be afforded more concrete rights as survivors of crime under a measure sponsored by State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago), which passed the Senate Sunday.

The legislation supports survivors of sexual assault by requiring hospitals to use the Illinois State Police online evidence tracking system and establishing a set of crime victims’ rights.

“There’s no reason hospitals should not take part in the Illinois State Police sexual assault evidence tracking system,” Villa said. “Requiring hospital participation in the tracking system will give survivors the tools they need to take control of the evidence in their cases.”

In 2020, the Illinois State Police launched an online tracking system for sexual assault evidence collection kits that allows survivors of sexual assault to track evidence in their cases, but not all hospitals in Illinois opted to participate. Villa’s measure would require hospitals to enter collected sexual assault evidence into the tracking system. This would ensure survivors of sexual assault receive information on how to use the tracking system from health care facilities or law enforcement.

“Survivors should not have to worry about inequitable treatment based on which hospital they go to,” Villa said. “It’s critical that law enforcement officials and health care providers support survivors of sexual assault.”

Villa’s legislation would also allow survivors to follow their cases through the justice system by establishing survivors’ right to timely notice regarding charging decisions and providing the opportunity to meet with the State’s Attorney’s Office to discuss the decision. Additionally, this measure ensures survivors are able to seek judicial intervention to enforce their crime victims’ rights or get assistance with complaints from the Office of the Attorney General.

“Survivors deserve to know whether their abuser will see their day in court,” Villa said. “This legislation will expand survivors’ rights and help prevent any potentially traumatic surprises regarding their cases.”

House Bill 1739 passed the Senate with a vote of 59-0.