Illinois Bill Would Charge Teachers For Sexually Abusing 18-Year-Old Students

( – Lawmakers in the Illinois State House have passed a bill aimed at protecting 18-year-old students from sexual abuse by school or college authorities. At present, it is only unlawful for teachers to have intimate relations with students under 18, but Republican Rep. Amy Elik argues that this needs to change. Rep. Elik said students over 18 are just as vulnerable to abusive or exploitative relationships and that any educator or authority figure who engages in such relationships should be held to account.

Fellow Republican Terri Bryant, who supported the bill, said that “unscrupulous” teachers sometimes “groom” 16 or 17-year-old kids intending to seek a sexual relationship when they turn 18, and the law currently allows them to do that. Bryant believes such activity by authority figures is an act of “evil.”

A Chicago teenager told reporters during an investigation into the issue that her physics teacher abused her when she was 17, saying he had targeted her for months before making any physical advances. Faith Colson later pursued criminal charges against her former teacher but recognized that he would not have faced punishment if she had been just a few months older when the abuse began. Faith now works with legislators to provide recourse for abused students.

The legislation passed through the House with no opposition, and Ms. Elik has urged her Senate colleagues to approve it before the end of this year’s legislative session. “This bipartisan bill has no vocal opposition and must move forward,” she said.

Also in Illinois, lawmakers introduced a new bill obliging doctors’ offices and clinics to report abuse cases to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The law currently only requires this of hospitals, but Democrat Rep. Kelly Cassidy said the bill was a “commonsense fix” that will clarify the duties of medical practitioners across the board.

The bill comes after a media investigation revealed that some health workers were able to carry on abusing patients despite credible accusations against them.

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