Senator GillespieARLINGTON HEIGHTS – To remove barriers to justice for survivors of sexual assault, a new law strengthening the legal definition of consent, sponsored by State Senator Ann Gillespie, was signed on Thursday.

“Survivors deserve a justice system that supports them during one of the most difficult times of their lives,” said Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights). “This measure removes a loophole that should never have existed and allows survivors to seek justice.”

House Bill 5441 clarifies the existing definition of “unable to give knowing consent” by adding that the survivor remains unable to consent if they voluntarily consumed an intoxicating substance. Under current interpretation, the offender must have provided the intoxicating substance to the survivor to be held responsible for a sexual assault.

“There are still too many in our society that believe a survivor of sexual assault may somehow be responsible for their assault,” said State Rep. Mark Walker (D-Arlington Heights), the chief House sponsor. “The person responsible for sexual assault is the rapist. Our laws should ensure a survivor can seek justice and know our criminal justice system believes them and stands with them.”

In a 2019 case, Illinois’ 1st Appellate Court recommended the clarification of “unable to give knowing consent” after an offender attempted to appeal a criminal sexual assault conviction.

House Bill 5441 was signed by the governor on Thursday and is effective immediately.