An Illinois law that takes effect Jan. 1 will officially prohibit convicted sex offenders from participating in holiday events—from dressing up as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to handing out candy on Halloween.
Offenders who break this law (SB 3579/PA 97-0699) could be subject to fines or revocation of their parole or probation, and could face additional jail time, according to a press release from Senator Kirk Dillard's office.
“I do not believe child sex offenders should be given the opportunity to dress up and participate in a holiday event that caters directly to young children,” Dillard said in a statement.
He said he sponsored the law in response to real incidents that occurred in Illinois where child sex offenders used holiday events as a way to inappropriately interact with children.
Dillard also sponsored House Bill 5265/PA 97-0998, allowing for felony prosecution of people who attempt to lure older children into their car while the child is traveling to or from school, according to the release.
“Obviously, there are 16- and 17-year-olds who are juniors and seniors in high school. They are still children, and they should not be excluded from this type of protection,” said Dillard.
The Senator said the new law was introduced in response to a case in DuPage County, where a 17-year-old was on her way to school, and was approached by a sex offender who tried to lure her into his van. Though the van was stopped by police, law enforcement officials could only charge the individual with disorderly conduct because the state’s current child luring law only applies to minors who are younger than 16 years of age.
“After Jan. 1, any individual caught preying on children walking to school will be punished appropriately,” Dillard said.
Dillard also sent a list of legislation that will be effective Jan. 1. Related laws include:
- Sex Offender Evaluations (SB 3638/PA 97‐ 1098): Establishes three new professional licenses for sex offender evaluators. Also requires that juveniles who seek to be taken off the sex offender registry receive a risk assessment.
- Sex Predators (HB 5280/PA 97‐1073): Provides that any person who is convicted of luring a minor is considered a sexual predator. Currently, persons must be convicted twice before being declared a sexual predator.
- Sex Trafficking (HB 5278/PA 97‐897): Allows prosecution for sexual trafficking and sexual servitude for a minimum of one year after the victim turns 18, but not less than three years after the offense occurred. This is designed to make it more likely that underage victims of sexual trafficking will report the crime after they turn 18.
Written by Glen Ellyn Patch editor Mary Ann Lopez