Illinois lawmakers are exploring whether to lift the statute of limitations on sex crimes, such as the ones committed by imprisoned former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan told a state Senate Committee today that the atrocities Hastert committed against teen boys should be why he's in jail, but the statute of limitations ran out.
"Our laws should not let perpetrators benefit from the suffering they inflict on children," Madigan told the Senate Criminal Law Committee on Statutes of Limitation.
Instead, Hastert is serving a 15-month prison sentence for structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting hush-money payments to one of the men he molested when he was a wrestling coach.
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Scott Cross, brother of longtime state House Minority Leader Tom Cross and also a Hastert victim, told the Senate committee in emotional testimony that Illinois needs to protect victims like himself by enacting tough laws on sex crimes.
"Hastert inflicted unbelievable pain on the lives of the youth he was entrusted to care for, and he got a slap on the wrist," Scott Cross said. "Seize this moment in history and make Illinois one of the toughest states on child sex offenders."
Madigan said there should be no limitation on pursuing justice for victims like Scott Cross. Madigan also said there are a number of lawmakers looking to sponsor legislation that would remove the statute of limitations on child sex crimes.
Currently, Illinois law says victims must report the crime within 20 years of their 18th birthday. A new law passed last year provides some exceptions to the statute, but it only affects offenses committed after 2013.
Opponents of removing the statute of limitations told the committee that there should be exceptions to a removal of the limitation because most cases only offer verbal testimony, which can be unreliable after a number of years.
Hastert is scheduled for release on Aug. 16, 2017.