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Illinois House passes bill that would protect victims who sue for sexual abuse

Bill to protect students from sexual abuse passes Illinois House
Bill to protect students from sexual abuse passes Illinois House 00:30

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- The Illinois State House of Representatives on Thursday approved legislation spurred by CBS 2's story of a woman who said she was sexually abused by a teacher at her Chicago Public Schools high school.

HB222 would make it clear that sexual assault on students is traumatic. It also includes language that prevents defendants from blaming child sexual abuse survivors in civil lawsuits.

The Illinois House passed the bill unanimously Thursday. It has now been sent to the Illinois senate, where it will be assigned to a committee – and then voted upon by the full state Senate if it passes out of committee.

The bill would then go to Gov. JB Pritzker's desk for signing.

Legislative sessions in Springfield were supposed to end on Friday, but state Rep. Curtis Tarver II (D-Chicago) – a sponsor of the bill – said the House session has been extended until at least Sunday, and the state Senate could likewise extend its session and vote on the bill.

CPS settled a 2019 civil case for $800,000 brought by a former student identified as Jane Doe against the Board of Education and former Gurdon S. Hubbard High School teacher Walter Glascoff.

Doe spoke exclusively with CBS 2 the week her case was set to go to trial about her experience in high school some 20 years ago. This was after hearing what a CPS-paid defense expert witness testified to in a recent deposition, and might have said in court had the case not been settled.

The hired expert was Dr. Prudence Gourguechon, a licensed psychiatrist in Illinois. She no longer practices, but she said she has been an expert witness in nearly three dozen cases—60% of the time for the plaintiff and 40% for the defense.

In Doe's case, Dr. Gourguechon testified in the deposition that not all cases of sexual abuse are traumatic. She also said that not all teachers at a school are in positions of authority over students. 

When asked whether it is traumatic when a person experiences a sexual assault, Dr. Gourguechon's answer was: "It depends. It depends on the detail, and how they're defining it; who's claiming what and what actually happened."

In 2018, Doe had told a therapist about the teacher in high school who had sex with her. That therapist reported it to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. CPS launched an investigation. 

Ultimately, the district determined Glascoff had abused Jane. Glascoff had admitted to district investigators that he had sex with Doe while she was in high school. 

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