Sex Crime Defendants to be Tested for STDs

By: Gerri L. Elder

In Illinois, a new measure sponsored by state Senator A.J. Wilhelmi, with the backing of Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, strengthens the current state law that requires people arrested for sex crimes to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has signed the measure into law, according to the Herald News.

The new law requires prosecuting state’s attorneys to seek court orders to compel defendants who have been accused of sex crimes to submit to testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. These tests are to be done within 48 hours of a defendant being charged with a sex crime.

The new law gives teeth to the existing law that required testing for sexually transmitted diseases, but failed to specify a time frame for the defendants to be tested.

The law provides that the results of the testing be given to the alleged victim, the defendant, the state’s attorney and the judge who presides over the case.

Wilhelmi says that the purpose of the new law is to make sure that evidence in a criminal investigation is secured in a timely manner. He says that because the results of the testing are released to only a limited and specific list of people, privacy is ensured.

While is it important that alleged victims of sex crimes receive medical treatment as soon as possible if they have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease, the law does not take guilt or innocence into account.

Under the law, anyone merely accused of a sex crime will be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and those results will be released to the alleged victim and others. This opens up the possibility of potential abuse of the system when false accusations are made. The test results of the innocent will be released, just as the test results of the guilty because a determination of guilt is not made prior to the testing.

The cost of the testing for sexually transmitted diseases will be paid by the defendant if he or she is convicted. If the defendant is found not guilty, they will not be responsible for payment for the testing, but the results will still be out there, in the hands of the accuser and others. So much for the privacy Wilhelmi ensured.