04242018CM0832RSPRINGFIELD – Law enforcement officers who sexually abuse or rape individuals in custody could face charges under a proposal advanced yesterday afternoon by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights).

“The general public should have complete faith that law enforcement officers are held to the same standards as everyone else in our society,” Hutchinson said. “No one person should be immune to consequences for their actions, and our laws should reflect that reality.”

House Bill 5597 would expand the definition of custodial sexual misconduct to include law enforcement officers who engage in sexual conduct with an individual in police custody. Illinois is one of 34 states that allow police officers to evade sexual assault or rape charges by claiming that sexual activity with someone detained or in custody is consensual.

The legal loophole gained nationwide attention after a highly publicized case in New York in which a woman was raped in Brooklyn by two NYPD officers after being detained and held in custody. While the officers have admitted to sexual activity with the victim, they are attempting to use the defense of consent at trial.

“The potential denial of justice to a rape victim in New York at the hands of a law enforcement officer should give lawmakers across the country the impetus to change our laws and ensure this never happens again,” Hutchinson said.

House Bill 5597 is sponsored by Representative Juliana Stratton in the House and passed the Senate Criminal Law Committee yesterday afternoon without opposition. The proposal will now head to the Senate floor for further debate.

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