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Gov. Pritzker Has 30 Days To Sign Bills Strengthening Privacy Protections For Sexual Assault Survivors

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has 30 days left to take action on two bills that strengthen privacy protections for sex assault victims.

The legislation came about after the CBS 2 investigators discovered the personal information of child sex crime victims had been left visible in public Cook County court records.

That exposure of private information violated a 1986 state law that required such information — including names, phone numbers, addresses and more — be removed from any court documents available to the public.

When CBS 2 brought its findings to the person responsible for maintaining court documents, then-Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, her office resisted taking action for weeks before finally promising to fix the problem. But months after Brown's staff did finally commit to making changes, CBS 2 found the records still hadn't been fixed.

By that time, Brown had been replaced by her successor, Clerk Iris Martinez. Martinez, a member of the State Senate for more than 20 years prior to becoming Clerk, worked with current Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford to introduce the two bills.

"These measures secure victims' rights to their own stories," Martinez said in a release emailed to CBS 2. "My clerks will have the appropriate means to keep victims' information private so they are not at risk of having their traumatic experience made public against their will or knowledge."

The first bill, Senate Bill 2339, amends the existing 1986 Privacy of Child Victims of Criminal Sexual Offenses Act. Members of the public will still be able to see records related to the case, but will require a court order to view any of the sensitive information CBS 2 found. The second bill, Senate Bill 2340, extends the same protections to adult victims of sex crimes for the first time.

Gov. Pritzker has roughly 600 pieces of legislation to sign this summer. A bill that improves access to high-quality child care was one he signed on Wednesday.

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