JMH, Other Hospitals In State Accused of Skirting State’s Sex Assault Survivors Law

By Benjamin Cox on April 7, 2024 at 9:45am

Jacksonville Memorial Hospital is being accused of skirting the state’s Criminal Sexual Assault reporting laws.

An investigative report from American Public Media says that in 2021 a 4-year old female was brought to the emergency room at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital after the child reported being sexually assaulted by a family member.

According to the report, a doctor at JMH noted trauma to the child’s sex organs and documentation was turned over to the local police and the child was sent home and told to report to a hospital in Springfield for further documentation and treatment. The doctor later told state health inspectors he didn’t have two hours of time to spend with a patient to do a required rape kit completion.

The girl eventually received a forensic exam 6 days after the trauma occurred. The family member has never been charged with any crime after the exam’s results came back negative for any male DNA from the State Police Crime lab.

According to an Illinois law passed 48 years ago, hospitals are required to offer a forensic exam, often called a rape kit, document any physical trauma with photographs, and notify a sexual assault advocate on the child’s behalf. The report claims that none of those 3 things were given to the victim or her family in this case. These claims were also documented in a formal complaint filed with state inspectors.

According to the report, Jacksonville Memorial Hospital has shut down services for sexual assault survivors and has them all transported to Springfield. The Illinois Department of Public Health’s inspectors found four violations related to the incident with the juvenile from 2021 in an inspection report. There was no punishment. No agency fined the hospital for the violations, and the state medical board didn’t discipline the doctor.

Officials with Memorial Health have declined to comment to WLDS News on the situation.

The investigation by American Public Media has revealed that roughly two dozen hospitals in the state have violated Illinois’ landmark sexual assault survivor law with few consequences due in large part to a loophole placed in the law 17 years ago. A review of publicly available inspection reports from 2018 through 2023 from the Illinois Department of Public Health revealed that over 200 patients at 23 hospitals around the state have, in some way, failed to meet the requirements of the law. Hospitals in the region listed in the report include Blessing in Quincy, McDonough District Hospital in Macomb, and Alton Memorial Hospital.

APM Reports found no evidence that any hospital has been fined since the law’s creation.

The loophole allows hospitals that find the requirements of the law to be too onerous to have those patients transferred to a nearby hospital that offers sexual assault survival services.

Lawmakers in the General Assembly say they are currently working to redo the 1976 law once again and close the loophole that allow the transfers.