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630-472-9700Available 24/7

Illinois Lawmaker Proposes Municipal Jurisdiction over College Sex Crimes

Posted on in Criminal Defense

sex crime, new law, Illinois criminal defense attorneyThere has been much controversy regarding a sexual assault case brought against a former Northern Illinois University (NIU) campus police officer and how the campus police force handled the investigation. The allegations of impropriety led to a raid by the FBI of the NIU police headquarters, as well as the firing of the department’s police chief.  The case has also led to the filing of an Illinois bill which would turn over any investigations of sex crimes on a college campus to the local police department.

In the NIU case, the former campus police officer has been accused of sexually assaulting a college freshman, with whom he had a relationship, in 2011. The alleged victim has testified that she turned over an exchange of text messages she had with the defendant to the campus police. Those text messages have disappeared, along with two hours of recorded testimony made by the former NIU officer while he was being questioned by investigating campus police officers. The defendant’s attorney claims that all of this missing evidence would exonerate his client, and has accused the NIU police department of intentionally destroying the evidence.

In response to this case, as well as several other cases around the country where there has been questionable handling of sexual assault investigations by other campus police departments, one Illinois lawmaker has introduced House Bill 3520, the Investigations of Sexual Assault in Higher Education Act. Under the proposed legislation, any sex crime investigation, which takes place at a college or university – whether a public or private institution – would automatically be under the jurisdiction of either the municipal police department or county sheriff. Supporters of the bill say that one of the biggest problems with the current system is that college campus police lack the training to properly investigate these types of cases.

However, there are law enforcement officials who are not in favor of HB3520, including the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators Association. A spokesperson for one university police department claims that campus police are actually better trained than municipal police in the area of sex crimes.

If you have been accused and arrested for sexual assault or other sex crime, contact an experienced Oak Brook criminal defense attorney. Call the offices of Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. today at 630-472-9700.

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