Lawmakers continue efforts to stop sexual harassment under the dome

Jan. 19, 2018

by Rachel Droze

A letter circulating the state claiming sexual harassment has been happening under the dome for decades and an allegation claiming a state senator sexually harassed a lobbyist sparked change in Illinois' statehouse.

"Sometimes policy, process, procedures, outcomes, accountability, if they are done well enough and taken seriously enough can be a deterrent," said Polly Poskin, the executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Last week, Representative David McSweeney filed a bill that would bar public funds from being used to settle sexual harassment cases.

"I've not seen any instances or heard of any reports of this type of behavior in Illinois like we've heard at the national level, but we have to be very careful and cognizant and putting these protections in place even in state law," Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Leland Grove, said.

Wojcicki Jimenez is the lead Republican sitting on the house task force on sexual discrimination and harassment.

She said since the task force was created last fall, steady progress has been made.

"I have a lot of confidence in the women who are sitting in the positions of power on these task forces that we're going to move something positive forward this year," Wojcicki Jiminez said.

One area the task forces are focusing on is making it easier for victims to report crimes.

"It is still under our current process, riskier for them to do that than to remain silent," Wojcicki Jimenez said.

She said the task forces are trying to create a process where these victims can easily report harassment and trust it's being properly vetted.

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