State News
11:24 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Protecting children of rape victims

A Chicago attorney is asking Illinois legislators to do more to protect the children of rape victims.  Chris Slaby reports on loophole in state law. 

Shauna Prewitt is an attorney now.  But when she was a senior in college, she was raped and became pregnant.  She decided to keep the child, a daughter. And then she became a victim of a different stripe ... "when seven years ago I had to fight my rapist for custody of my daughter."  Prewitt's now advocating for what she calls a "small but important change. In Illinois law currently, a woman who is raped can have the visitation and custody priveleges of her attacker restricted.  But only if she has a criminal rape conviction against that attacker."She says less than five-percent of all rapes end with a conviction ... leaving victims like her without protection.  Prewitt's pressing legislators to lower that standard ... so "clear and convincing" evidence of a rape would be enough to restrict an attacker's parental rights.  She says that's still a substantial hurdle for a woman to prove. And it's already the standard for other custody cases, like those involving abuse and neglect.  Upon hearing Prewitt's testimony, a House committee approved the proposal.  I'm Chris Slaby.