Bennett100216CHICAGO – Former Speaker of the U.S. House Dennis Hastert is an admitted sex offender. But he is in prison for bank fraud, not sex crimes.

That’s because the deadline to prosecute his crimes against students ran out long ago and prosecutors are powerless to do anything.
That would change under a proposed law being sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett (D – Champaign). His proposal to extend that deadline was the subject of a committee hearing Tuesday that included testimony from one of Hastert’s victims.

“As hard as it is to continue to live through the events of the past, the laws in Illinois – and across the country – have to change,” said Scott Cross, speaking to the Chicago Tribune.

Bennett said Cross and others deserve their chance at justice.


“Victims of sexual abuse, especially minors, may have a very difficult time confronting their abusers and reporting a crime,” Bennett said. “In instances where abuse is revealed years after the crime has been committed, our legal system should help victims secure justice – not turn them away.”

Bennett’s plan, contained in Senate Bill 3402, removes the statute of limitations for felony criminal sexual abuse and sex crimes against children, allowing for the prosecution of these offenses at any time. 

Hastert is currently serving a 15-month prison sentence for bank fraud relating to sexual abuse allegations from another victim. During Hastert’s trial, Judge Thomas Durkin noted that Hastert avoided serious legal consequences because of Illinois’ current statute of limitation law.

While today’s hearing was subject-matter only, meaning no vote was taken on the proposal, Bennett is hopeful movement of the plan will lead to a vote in the Senate.

“Predators like Dennis Hastert should not be able to escape justice simply because of the amount of time that has passed since their horrific crimes occurred,” Bennett said.


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