Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Survivors of sexual assault will now have more privacy from the public because of a new law sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

“Sexual assault survivors deserve to withhold the details of their traumatic experience, Lightford said. “Now they will have the right to share their stories when they are ready, and no one else will be able to tell them first.”

Senate Bill 2339 clarifies that anyone seeking to inspect or copy court records relating to a child survivor of sexual crimes must get a court order, with reasonable exceptions for people who play a legitimate role in the judicial process. The law, which is supported by the circuit court of Cook County, closes a loophole that prevents them from excluding identities when releasing certain court records.

“It was important for me to ensure our clerks have clear tools to keep victims’ information private for their safety and to ensure they maintain their rights to their own stories,” Iris Martinez, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County said. “No one should be at risk of having their traumatic experience made public against their will or knowledge.”

SB 2340 provides similar protections for adult survivors.

Lightford introduced both of these laws after a news agency disclosed information about survivors of sexual assault that it had acquired during an investigation last fall. While the private information of child survivors was already protected under a separate law, Lightford’s law extends protections to adult survivors, in addition to closing the loophole that allowed the news agency to acquire the information in the first place.

“Who wants to be reminded of a traumatizing event that they may be trying to put behind them?” Lightford said. “Stories of this magnitude should be told only by the survivor – not by the media or anyone else. That’s why we made it the survivors’ choice.”

Both measures were signed into law and will become effective Jan. 1 2022.