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July 18, 2001

Ryan Signs Legislation to Protect Children and Elderly Adults

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today signed legislation that extends the reach of court-ordered protection for children and allows incapacitated seniors to provide court testimony in cases of abuse.

Senate Bill 464 expands the hearsay exception for seniors 60 or older, allowing the court to accept previous statements of abuse from victims who are no longer physically capable of testifying.

Senate Bill 187 adds a layer of security for children and young people who are the subject of orders of protection by allowing the courts to notify colleges, schools and day care facilities that they must take steps to eliminate illegal contact between parties who by law may have limited or no contact with the subject of the order.

"Children and seniors are often targeted as victims of abuse. With these two bills, we are making strides toward ensuring that these vulnerable citizens have greater protections under Illinois law," Gov. Ryan said.

The Illinois Department on Aging's Elder Abuse and Neglect Program annually responds to nearly 8,000 reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

Department Director Margo Schreiber said that of those reports, three out of four cases involve abuse by family members. Seventy-five percent of the alleged victims are women, and the average victim's age is 78.

A formerly lucid elderly victim can suffer rapid deterioration of their mental capacity due to strokes or illness and quickly become a poor witness. SB464 provides that eligible elder adults can still enter testimony against their abuser in court, even if they are not able to testify themselves. Under the bill, eligible adults must be at least 60 years old, and must have been diagnosed by a physician to suffer from dementia, developmental disability, or other form of mental incapacity, or any physical infirmity.

SB 187 provides that the clerk of the circuit court where the order of protection was filed must send a written notice of the order to the child's day care, school or college within 24 hours of the issuance of the order of protection if requested to do so. The information will remain confidential and will only be forwarded to the facility the protected party attends.

Since his first day in office, Gov. Ryan has been committed to combating child and elder abuse through increased education and awareness as well as providing new resources for prevention and intervention services.

SB 464 was sponsored by Senators Adeline J. Geo-Karis, R-Zion; Dave Sullivan, R-Mt. Prospect; Kathleen Parker, R-Northbrook; and Representatives Mary K. O'Brien, D-Coal City; James Brosnahan, D-Evergreen Park; Jim Fowler, D-Harrisburg; and Angelo "Skip" Saviano, R-Elmwood Park.

SB 187 was sponsored by Senator Adeline J. Geo-Karis, R-Zion; and Representatives Eileen Lyons, R-Western Springs; Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa; Karen May, D-Highland Park; and James Brosnahan, D-Evergreen Park.


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