CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — On Thursday, Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation that criminalizes sex as assault if the victim is too intoxicated to consent, even if the other party does not provide them with the intoxicating substance.
HB5441 expands the definition of sexual consent in the Illinois Criminal Code to include whether the abuser “knew or reasonably should have known the victim was under the influence of drugs or alcohol” and the victim was “unable to give knowing consent.”
The Pritzker administration said the law is in response to rape prosecutions being thrown out in court because the victim had been voluntarily drinking or using drugs.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Mark Walker (D-Chicago) after 18-year-old Kaylyn Ahn suffered a sexual assault while inebriated and was told the case likely would not be prosecuted for that reason.
She testified before lawmakers in support of the bill, saying, “No matter what you were wearing, what you were drinking, or whether you were in a relationship with them, rape is never your fault. In signing this bill, we are listening to the power of survivors.”
Criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield called the bill “a nightmare,” saying “Intoxication, rather than incapacitation, would make sex a crime for lack of consent, even if both are drunk. Whoever goes to the police first wins.”
“Two consenting adults who share a drink before sex could cause the male to fall prey to the proposed law if the female experiences morning regret,” writer Scott Davis said in an op-ed for Law Enforcement Today.
Prtizker also signed SB3023, the second of which expands where sexual assault victims can access treatment and for how long.
“We cannot have a justice system that re-traumatizes those forced to utilize it,” said Pritzker. “To survivors in our state: there are no words to lessen the unimaginable trauma and pain you’ve been through. I want you to know that your Governor hears you. When you speak out, our systems will respond. It is our responsibility to give you the autonomy and justice that you deserve.”
If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.