Sexual harassment victims must have a voice, House candidate says
Michael Babcock says victims of sexual harassment at the state Capitol must have someone to reach out to.
The Republican House candidate who wants to represent the 111th District told the Metro East Sun that House Minority Leader Jim Durkin’s (R-Western Springs) suggestion for a sexual harassment hotline could help eliminate sex harassment and offer victims the support they deserve.
“If it is set up properly, then those who feel they have been wronged should get their voice heard without a negative action taken against them,” Babcock said.
Babcock is also calling for a full investigation of allegations in the wake of activist Denise Rotheimer accusing Senate Majority Caucus Whip Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) of harassing her when they worked on legislation together a year ago.
“If and when there is factual proof of misconduct, then there needs to be action that brings justice to the victim,” Babcock said.
Durkin's call for a hotline followed House Speaker Michael Madigan's (D-Chicago) introduction of Senate Bill 402, which would require lawmakers, staff members and lobbyists to undergo annual sexual harassment prevention training.
“As disturbing reports of sexual harassment in state government have come to light, we must ensure that we are doing everything in our capacities to end this behavior for all Illinois residents,” Durkin said in a statement. “By making it easier and safer for victims to report sexual harassment behavior through the hotline, we are empowering them to stand strong against their perpetrators.”
The Illinois Department of Human Rights would field all sexual harassment phone calls and assist victims on the proper procedure to pursue filing a complaint. The hotline, which was introduced for state employees, will also be open to the public.
“I believe sexual harassment should not be tolerated at any level or any time,” Babcock said.
The 111th Diistrict includes Alton and Wood River in Madison County. Daniel Beiser (D-Alton) has decided not to seek re-election.