Gov. JB Pritzker signs 2 new bills, protecting sexual assault survivors

'I thought I did not deserve to call it rape,' one victim said
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gov. JB Pritzker signed two new bills into law, protecting sexual assault survivors Thursday.

One of them previously kept victims from stepping forward.

The bill the governor signed Thursday closes a loophole that made it harder to prosecute rapists by shifting the blame to victims of sexual assault.

A courageous young victim saw her efforts to better protect others victims become a reality.

Kaylyn Ahn, 18, calls herself a survivor. She was raped last summer by a boy she had been dating.

"I blamed myself every single day. I thought it was my fault. I thought I did not deserve to call it rape," Ahn said.

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Ahn said she got voluntarily intoxicated, and her boyfriend took advantage of her condition and her inability to consent.

When she reported the sexual assault to police three months later, she was stunned by the response.

"I received a call from the police sergeant who told me that they would not investigate my case because it did not qualify as rape under Illinois law," Ahn said.

While the law was clear that if a victim is slipped a date rape drug making her unable to consent the perpetrator can be held accountable, it was too vague in other cases like Ahn's.

She was interning for state Rep. Mark Walker at the time and told him what happened.

"For us to be in a situation where somehow if the victim was intoxicated, by their own hand, it's somehow not a chargeable offense when they are criminally assaulted and raped is ludicrous," said Walker, D-Arlington Heights.

So, on Thursday, Pritzker signed a bill to eliminate that loophole, with Ahn by his side.

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"We cannot have a justice system that re-traumatizes the people who need to utilize it. Yet that's been the reality for far too long," Pritzker said.

Advocates have said less than 10% of sexual assaults are reported to police.

They hope the new law might encourage more victims to come forward, knowing prosecutors now have more to work with.

"(It) explicitly creates another tool in the toolbox that says OK, that's not going to be a reason why we have to throw this case out. That reason's off the table," said Carrie Ward, CEO of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The other bill the governor signed Thursday doubles the amount of time victims of sexual assault can receive health care from 90 to 180 days, and it also allows them to do so without using their health insurance in case the abuser is the policy holder.

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