In Chicago and the state as a whole, reports of sexual assault in Illinois have increased significantly in recent years. While this tragically shines a light on frequent and systemic abuse by individuals (that are often perpetuated by organizations like churches), the increase in criminal and civil lawsuits is representative of victims taking action to get justice for their suffering.
Illinois is among the most progressive states when it comes to sex abuse legislation and the actions that victims are allowed to take to seek justice. In this guide, you’ll come to understand the laws that protect sexual assault victims in Illinois and the steps that can be taken in civil court to get you the financial compensation and justice you deserve.
Under What Circumstances Are Illinois Sex Abuse Victims Allowed to Take Legal Action?
Illinois law codifies sexual assault, rape, child abuse and statutory rape, and other key types of sex abuse and has progressive laws for taking action against individual abusers and organizations like clergies that allow systemic abuse to take place.
If any of the following circumstances apply to you, you’re entitled to financial compensation and can work with an Illinois sex abuse attorney to file a civil case.
Sexual Assault or Rape
As explained in Illinois Statutes Chapter 720, “A person commits criminal sexual assault if that person commits an act of sexual penetration and (1) uses force or threat of force; (2) knows that the victim is unable to understand the nature of the act or is unable to give knowing consent; (3) is a family member of the victim, and the victim is under 18 years of age; or (4) is 17 years of age or over and holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim, and the victim is at least 13 years of age but under 18 years of age.”
Aggravated Sexual Assault
“A person commits aggravated criminal sexual assault if that person commits criminal sexual assault and any of the following aggravating circumstances exist during the commission of the offense or, for purposes of paragraph (7), occur as part of the same course of conduct as the commission of the offense:”
- A person displays, threatens to use, or legitimately utilizes a weapon, including firearms or an object, to pressure a victim to perform a sexual act.
- The victim receives bodily harm.
- The victim (or any person) is threatened or endangered by the assailant
- The victim is above the age of 60
- The victim has a physical or intellectual disability
- The victim is forced to ingest a controlled substance during the assault
- A firearm is discharged during the assault
Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child
Child abuse and statutory rape are penalties under Illinois sex abuse laws.
“A person commits predatory criminal sexual assault of a child if that person is 17 years of age or older, and commits an act of contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person and the part of the body of another for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of the victim or the accused, or an act of sexual penetration, and: (1) the victim is under 13 years of age; or (2) the victim is under 13 years of age and that person: (A) is armed with a firearm; (B) personally discharges a firearm during the commission of the offense; (C) causes great bodily harm to the victim that: (i) results in permanent disability; or (ii) is life-threatening; or (D) delivers (by injection, inhalation, ingestion, transfer of possession, or any other means) any controlled substance to the victim without the victim’s consent or by threat or deception, for other than medical purposes.”
How Does the Process of Working With an Illinois Sex Abuse Attorney Work?
Illinois sex abuse attorneys are committed to getting sex assault victims in Chicago and across the state the justice they deserve. Here is the process you need to take to work with an attorney to earn financial compensation through a civil tort lawsuit.
1. Contact a Sex Abuse Attorney
The first step to getting justice is contacting an Illinois sex abuse attorney and telling them your story. Upon hearing the details of your abuse, the attorney can proceed to file a claim with the state to take legal action against your abuser (and any organization like a clergy that allowed the abuse to take place) based on the evidence.
2. File a Claim in Court
Once your attorney has collected all the required information and assembled corroborative evidence, they may proceed to file an official complaint for you. This document will explain the details of your sexual abuse and outline the damages being sought.
3. Aim for a Settlement
Beyond the discovery process, your alleged abuser and/or their organization (the defendant) will commonly attempt to reach a settlement before the case is taken to court.
Should the defendant(s) propose a financial settlement, you will have the option to agree to this offer instead of proceeding to trial. It is common for the vast majority of cases to reach a settlement prior to trial. Typically, there is a negotiation process to determine a fair settlement amount, which can vary in duration from months to years.
Work with a Sex Abuse Attorney to Get Justice Without Spending Money Up Front
Sex abuse attorneys commonly offer their services to victims of sexual assault without requiring any upfront payment. This ensures that you can seek justice in court against your abuser without any financial burden, as your lawyer will only be compensated if they secure the settlement you are entitled to.
No matter the nature of the sexual assault you’ve endured, whether it’s rape or abuse by a member of the clergy, you have a right to compensation. Begin the process by scheduling a consultation with an Illinois attorney specializing in sex abuse cases, who will advocate for your right to justice against the perpetrator.