Activist alleges Illinois senator sexually harassed her

Activist alleges Illinois senator sexually harassed her (WICS)

CHICAGO (WICS) - An Illinois activist accused Senator Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, of sexual harassment Tuesday at a House committee hearing discussing a bill aimed at ending sexual harassment at the Capitol.

"I authored Jasmine's Law, which is named after my daughter Jasmine who was raped at the age of 11,” Rotheimer said.

Since her daughter's rape, Rotheimer has worked to pass laws protecting victims.

"I've done this work for 14 years out of pocket at my expense because of my experience my daughter and I went through in the criminal legal system where we were further victimized," Rotheimer said.

In 2016, Rotheimer was pursuing another bill that would require the state to provide attorneys to crime victims.

"That's where Senator Silverstein came in as the sponsor of the bill," Rotheimer said.

That's when she said the harassment started.

"He would Facebook me at midnight, call me at midnight, I mean you have no idea the torment,” Rotheimer said.

Click here to listen to the Sexual harassment bill hearing: Part 1

Click here to listen to the Sexual harassment bill hearing: Part 2

Rotheimer said Silverstein used the power of his office to continue the harassment.

"In April, Silverstein killed my bill,” Rotheimer said. “He thought I had a boyfriend and then once I explained to him I don't have a boyfriend; my bill came back alive."

Newschannel 20 spoke with Silverstein Tuesday. He said he apologizes if he ever made Rotheimer feel uncomfortable and is going to wait to see what the ethics committee has to say.

Tuesday’s committee hearing came after a letter circulated the state last week, alleging Illinois politicians have a long history of sexually assaulting and harassing women at the Capitol.

They were discussing a bill that would require all lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists to complete annual sexual harassment training.

The bill also empowers state inspectors general and ethics commissions to investigate allegations and assess fines for harassment incidents.

House Speaker Michael Madigan expects the bill to pass both chambers and the governor to sign it.

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