State Senator Sally Turner’s (R-Beason) has advanced legislation out of committee that would further protect the privacy of victims of child sex crimes while testifying.
“Sexual crimes against minors are one of the most horrendous crimes a person can commit and have been rightfully treated as such by our legal system. The victims of these crimes go through unimageable trauma throughout their lives,” said Sen. Turner. “It is the duty of our legal system to bring their abusers to justice, while also ensuring that we do not unnecessarily add to their mental and emotional anguish. This legislation codifies that every victim of child sex crimes can receive the privacy they deserve while they testify about one of the most horrific events of their life.”
Senate Bill 2942 clarifies that a judge can use his or her discretion to clear disinterested parties, excluding media, from the courtroom during the victim’s testimony even if the victim is over 18 years of age as long as the crimes were committed while the victim was still a minor. To safeguard the constitutional rights of defendants, the judge must find that particular parties do not have a direct interest in the case and must put their basis for that finding into the record.
“The McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office could not be more appreciative of Senator Turner’s efforts to ensure our most vulnerable victims are afforded as much privacy and protection as possible. I am grateful that the Senate understands the importance and significance of clarifying that every local judge in the state is empowered with the discretion to exclude non-interested parties from the courtroom when a victim is testifying about their childhood trauma,” said McLean County State’s Attorney Don Knapp. “This legislation will undoubtedly provide countless victims with at least a modicum of comfort in knowing that judges can prevent an untold number of strangers from gawking at them while they are on the witness stand. For that, I cannot thank Senator Turner and her colleagues enough.”
Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz and McLean County State’s Attorney Don Knapp both testified in support of Senate Bill 2942 during Tuesday’s Senate Criminal Law Committee. The legislation passed out of the committee unanimously and now goes to the Senate floor for further consideration.