05092019CM0362SPRINGFIELD – An initiative to give people stricter consequences that are convicted of assault or battery in a church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship advanced by State Senator Rachelle Crowe was signed by Gov. Pritzker last week.

“Attacks on people in vulnerable settings, especially in their place of worship are intolerable,” Crowe said. “Our world has gotten used to living in fear, but your church is one place you should feel safe.”

Crowe, a Democrat from Glen Carbon, led the charge behind adding an aggravating factor to sentencing considerations for those who commit assault or battery when committed in religious settings. Aggravating factors can influence a court’s decision to include an imprisoning sentence or increase the chance for a more severe sentence.

This initiative is a continuance of Senator Crowe’s predecessor, former State Senator Bill Haine’s work. His legislation was in response to a traumatic shooting at the First Baptist Church in Maryville in 2009, in which Rev. Fred Winters succumbed to his injuries.

“When I introduced this measure, it aimed to ensure those who commit this serious crime will face consequences for their actions,” said former State Senator Bill Haine. “I am proud of Sen. Crowe and Rep. Mayfield for their determination in getting this passed for the people of Illinois.”

“I hope this legislation can encourage the violence in our communities and places of worship to cease to exist,” said Cindy Winters, widow of Rev. Winters. “I am extremely grateful to Sen. Crowe and the Illinois legislature for passing this legislation in Fred’s memory.

Crowe’s legislation also states that aggravated battery is a Class 1 felony when the person causes great harm or permanent disability to a victim engaged in prayer or religious service.

House Bill 38 will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

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Category: Press Releases

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