SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that strengthens prosecutors’ ability to hold sex offenders who murder their victims accountable for all their crimes. House Bill 4063 was initiated by Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine to address a loophole in the law that prohibited prosecutors from charging offenders with sexual assault if the victim was not alive to report the crime.
“If the evidence shows that a murderer was also a rapist, then prosecutors should be able to use that evidence in their efforts to seek justice for victims and their families. The punishment should fit both crimes,” said Gov. Blagojevich, a former prosecutor.
House Bill 4063, sponsored by state Rep. John A. Fritchey (D-Chicago) and state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), removes the three-year statute of limitation for prosecuting sexual assault cases if the victim was killed during the attack. Under the new law, rape charges can still be filed if the victim has been murdered within 2 years of the assault and a DNA profile of the offender is obtained and entered into the DNA database.
“It is absurd that prosecutors cannot bring sexual assault charges against an offender when there is compelling evidence of the offense because the victim was murdered,” said Devine. “This important measure closes that loophole so that criminals can be held accountable for all of their heinous crimes.”
Currently law includes a three-year statute of limitation when a victim does not report a sexual assault within 2 years of the crime, and a 10-year statue of limitation when the crime is reported within 2 years. There is no statue of limitation if a victim reports an assault within 2 years and a
DNA profile of the offender is obtained and entered into the DNA database.
A member of Devine’s prosecution team brought the loophole to his attention after rape charges against a confessed murderer, Paul Runge, had to be dropped because the victim was killed and could not report the sexual assault within two years, and by the time Runge was arrested, the three-year timeframe for prosecutors to seek charges had elapsed. Devine’s office indicates that Runge’s case is not unique – several other convicted killers escaped rape charges because of the legal loophole.
During 2003, there were 5853 sexual assault cases reported by law enforcement agencies in Illinois.
House Bill 4063 is effective immediately.