Victim's Rights - Sun News

Victim's Rights - Sun News

In some ways, victims and families of sexual predators are handcuffed by the state of Illinois in their search for justice. While prosecutors are required by law to inform victims of their rights as they proceed through the justice system, others must be requested in writing. For all we know, the requests must be in triplicate.

That is the fault of Illinois lawmakers who had the chance in 2005 to enact the "Survivors Rights Act" as it was nicknamed. That would have required crime victims to acknowledge, in writing, that they received instructions on their rights. It also would have held prosecutors feet to the fire for failing to notify victims and witnesses. It also would have allowed them to sue if they felt ignored.

Introduced by former State Rep. Robert Churchill, R-Lake Villa, the bill died in committee as state’s attorneys throughout Illinois protested the liability issue. Currently, only one state, Arizona, allows victims to sue if they have not been informed of their rights. Even then, malice must be a factor, which is a slippery slope to prove.

"For victims to not be notified of the sentencing or tell their story makes the system one sided," Churchill said. We couldn't agree more and we'd like to see another Lake County lawmaker pick up the banner of Churchill's bill.

That would be a start – to put some hope back into victims' lives when hope is shattered by courtroom delaying tactics, feeling rejected by an uncaring bureaucracy. Another portion would be having true advocacy on behalf of the victims. Currently, many sexual assault victims feel ignored at a time of complete and utter emotional crisis.

The Lake County News-Sun embarked on the three-part series “Too Young for Justice” not to sell newspapers, as we’re sure some will contend. We did it to find who speaks for society’s youngest victims. Not many do, we discovered. We believe that should bother Lake Countians. It bothers us.