On Feb. 16, State Senator Sally Turner’s (R-Beason) legislation designed to provide additional privacy protections for victims of child sex crimes passed unanimously out of the Illinois Senate.
“This legislation will empower judges to grant additional privacy to victims of child sex crimes who chose to testify by allowing the judge to use their discretion to remove non-interested parties from the courtroom,” said Sen. Turner. “This will help ensure that these vulnerable victims are not forced to speak about one of the worst moments of their life in front of countless strangers.”
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.
“I am pleased to see the Senate unanimously recognize the importance of providing as much privacy protection as reasonably possible to every victim testifying about their abuse as a child,” continued Sen. Turner. “I look forward to continuing to advocate for the victims of these horrendous crimes as this legislation moves through the process.”
While Senate Bill 2942 was in committee, Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz and McLean County State’s Attorney Don Knapp testified in support of the legislation and addressed its importance. The legislation now heads to the House for further consideration.