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Bills Strengthening Privacy Protections For Sexual Assault Survivors Pass Senate

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — A pair of bills prompted by a CBS 2 investigation passed the Illinois Senate unanimously Friday, clearing a key milestone on their road to becoming law.

The bills were introduced following a series of reports by CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards discovered the sensitive personal information of child sex crime victims was visible in publicly-available court documents — a direct violation of state law.

The person charged maintaining court documents, then-Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, resisted making changes after CBS 2 first brought the problem to her staff's attention. Months later, CBS 2 checked again, and found many records still hadn't been fixed.

After Brown's successor, former State Senator Iris Martinez, took over the office, CBS 2 learned the problem was far worse. As many as 10,000 cases that potentially contained victims' information were visible in public computer terminals.

Martinez, who spent 20 years in the State Senate before becoming Clerk, drew on her connections at her old job. She and Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford introduced a bill strengthening protections for minor victims, and introduced a new bill creating the same privacy rules for adult victims.

The pair of bills will now be sent to the Illinois House of Representatives, where they'll be debated in committee hearings before being sent to the full House for a vote. If passed, they'll then be sent to Governor J.B. Pritzker to be signed into law.

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