Madigan: Sexual assault victims need justice, not blame

Victims of sexual assault too often don’t report the crime because of low conviction rates, a backlog of rape kits and a tendency to blame victims, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Thursday.

“We need to collect evidence in a safe and compassionate way,” Madigan said. “Instead of victims being believed, they’re too often blamed.”

Madigan also addressed sexual assault on school campuses in her keynote address at the National Association of Attorneys General Midwestern Regional Meeting.

“There are epidemic rates of gender and sexual violence in the United States,” Madigan said. “For too long our response has been ineffective.”

Madigan, along with Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly and the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, have formed a joint working group seeking to improve prosecution rates of sexual assault cases throughout Illinois. In 2010, Human Rights Watch found that in 127 Illinois jurisdictions that provided information, only 1,474 of 7,494 rape kits collected had been tested.

In all, nearly 100 people registered for the two-day conference at Aloft Chicago City Center.