IL--Victims urge IL AG to act on new sex crimes investigation
For immediate release: Monday Feb. 23
A small minority of sex crimes in 32 southern Illinois counties are ever prosecuted, according to a lengthy, thorough and shocking report by the Belleville News-Democrat. These alarming results should prompt Governor Bruce Rauner to fund and launch an investigation into such sex crimes across the state and recommend remedies to this dangerous injustice.
Reporters Beth Hundsdorfer and George Pawlaczyk found that “Authorities did not prosecute seven out of 10 of sex crime suspects from 2005-13, even though victims were able to identify their attackers 95 percent of the time.” They also found inexplicable disparities in prosecution from one jurisdiction to another. “The prosecution rate of felony sex crimes in Madison County was more than in St. Clair County – 38 to 18 percent, respectively – even though they border one another and are nearly identical in population,” the journalists wrote.
Even assembling the data for News Democrat report was difficult because some court officials refused or were reluctant to compile public information. That’s inexcusable.
In private settings – churches, synagogues, and parochial schools – it’s very hard to get independent data about sex crimes. These institutions are often extremely secretive about such sensitive topics. But it should not be difficult to get reliable and important information in tax-payer funded, allegedly “open” state and county offices.
Illinois state officials are strapped for money. But perhaps the most fundamental duty of government is to ensure the physical safety of its citizens, especially its most vulnerable ones. What on earth could be more important that to protect more citizens and catch more rapists?
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.