NBC 5 Investigates

Dismissed: Resources for survivors, proposals for change and more

NBC 5 Investigates conducted a six-month investigation that found sexual assault charges were never filed or were dropped in favor of non-sex charges time and time again.

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As part of our "Dismissed" series, NBC 5 Investigates compiled a list of resource for survivors in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, along with information on ways to advocate for change. Find our extensive series here.

If you are the survivor of a sexual assault or sexual violence and want to tell your story or comment on our NBC 5 Investigates / Telemundo Chicago Investiga series, “Dismissed,” please contact us. You can leave a message on the NBC 5 Investigates tip line at 312-836-1441, or you can send our investigative team an email at this link

If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual assault or violence – recently or in the past – there are a variety of local organizations that can help you immediately – 24 hours a day.

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) is – in its own words – a not-for-profit corporation of 31 community-based sexual assault crisis centers working together to end sexual violence. Several of these crisis centers are within the greater Chicago area – each with its own website, contact information, and resources. 

Many are geared specifically to Spanish-speaking victims and survivors. You can find them all on this map on the ICASA website. Each of these organizations assists victims and survivors of sexual assault through every step following an assault, including a victim’s decision as to whether she or he wants to report the assault to police; an exam (and the process of undergoing the process of a rape kit collection) at a hospital; therapy and counseling; and working through the myriad steps of a court case and trial, if a survivor chooses to report his or her assault to police.  All contact with all ICASA centers is completely confidential.

ICASA also includes links to other resources and organizations nationwide. You can find them at this page on its website. 

The equivalent organization to ICASA in Indiana is the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking.  ICESAHT describes itself as Indiana’s statewide sexual assault coalition, providing a supportive network to survivors, service providers and allies.

ICESAHT has its own consortium of local rape crisis centers, which you can find here.

There is also the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which has its own set of resources for survivors of sexual assault at this link.

Rape and sexual abuse on college campuses has become a significant issue in itself – with its own challenges. The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault has a specific set of resources for college sexual assault at this link

Beyond Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, ICASA lists other statewide sexual assault advocacy groups here.

Finally, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S. RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE, which it describes as a free, confidential, 24/7 hotline. You can call or chat with online, via Chatbot or via mobile at this link.

Government funding for rape crisis services in Illinois has not significantly increased for more than twenty years. 

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) is currently lobbying both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois State Senate to increase an investment of $20 million in General Revenue Funds to assist victims and – just as importantly – support efforts to prevent sexual assault in the first place. 

If you support this push for increased funding, you can write to your local state senator or representative by using this link to find the elected state officials who represent you. 

ICASA is also advocating this year for five specific bills in the Illinois State Senate, and eight additional bills in the Illinois House of Representatives. ICASA has provided the following comprehensive list of those priorities:

Click through the four pages of the above document to see all of ICASA’s bill-tracking efforts. 

If you feel strongly about any or all of these bills, you can – again – write to your local state senator or representative – or you can send an email to ICASA at icasanews@icasa.org – which they will forward to the appropriate staff member. You can also contact ICASA by phone at 217-753-4117.

In Indiana, the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking also has a set of legislative priorities, which include an elimination of the rape statute of limitations in Indiana, and reforms in the system of testing rape kits, as well as reforms in the state’s victim’s compensation program.

As in Illinois, you can contact your local Indiana representatives to voice your opinion on these priorities.  You can also contact ICESAHT at info@icesaht.org, or call them at 317-624-2370.

In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault urges residents to get involved with its public policy agenda. WCASA provides this link for individuals who want to stay up to date with its current list of legislative priorities.

NBC 5 Investigates has partnered with our investigative colleagues at other NBC-owned stations around the country, in researching the issue of the high number of sexual assault cases being pled down to non-sex crimes. 

For example, our partner investigative unit at NBC Bay Area recently reported on a case in California in which a man accused of sexual assault pled down to a non-sex conviction. You can find the NBC Bay Area investigation, “Negotiated Justice" at this link.

In 2023, NBC 5 Investigates looked at the specific issue of sex crimes on college campuses, and the additional hurdles and issues which are a part of the reporting process at universities and colleges.  You can see our coverage here and here.

In 2022, NBC 5 Investigates looked at the issue of local coaches who have been accused of abusing their players and students.  We found dozens of Chicago-area coaches who have been convicted or sanctioned for sexual misconduct.  You can see our two-part investigation here:

In 2018, NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Chicago Investiga revealed the phenomenon of sex offenders who are relegated to living in motels and hotels – mainly because they are prohibited from living in most other areas of any given community. 

Here is a link to our investigation, “Unintended Consequences” – as well as our additional stories on how “restriction zones” push sex offenders into those hotels and motels; how to make sure your family doesn’t not rent a motel room next to a registered sex offender; and a map of the registered offenders we found in our 2018 investigation.  

Deborah Tuerkheimer, the Northwestern University law professor we interview in the "Dismissed" series, is the author of "Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers." You can find the book and more information on Tuerkheimer’s work, at this link.

Northwestern University Law Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, said a host of factors play into why sex crime cases lead to reduced charges or don’t result in a conviction, including how thoroughly they are investigated and prosecuted.

Another informative paper on this issue was published by the Iowa Law Review in 2014, entitled “How to Lie with Rape Statistics:  America’s Hidden Rape Crisis.” You can read the paper, written by Corey Rayburn Yung of the University of Kansas School of Law, here.

Finally, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office maintains a “Sexual Assault Dashboard,” which details felony sexual assault cases and their outcomes in Cook County.  The dashboard – along with a description of the data it includes – is at this link.

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