LANSING -- The Michigan House approved on Thursday more than two dozen bills tailored to address the failings that allowed former sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar to sexually abuse hundreds of women and girls over two decades.
Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, reportedly grew emotional as she defended the legislation before the full House.
"I believe that we are taking critical steps to address sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse," Chang told The Detroit News. "And the legislation that we pass today will make a difference in the lives of countless Michiganders in the years to come."
Gov. Rick Snyder is in support of the 27-bill bipartisan package, which received some criticism for enabling people abused by the former sports doctor to retroactively seek damages through the courts but not other victims of sexual abuse. Others wanted coaches to be added to Michigan’s list of people mandated to report suspected abuse.
Despite those concerns, all the bills passed with big majorities ranging from 88-21 to several that passed unanimously, according to Detroit Free Press.
Among provisions in the bills that were passed:
- Require informed consent from patients who will receive invasive procedures that include penetration of the vagina and anus; make sexual assault under the guise of medical treatment a crime and revoke the medical license of any medical professional convicted of that crime.
- Increased penalties for possession and distribution of child pornography and making it a crime for a person in authority to dissuade someone from reporting a sexual assault and expanding the admissibility of prior sexual misconduct in court cases.
- Require education on sexual assault and abuse in grades 6-12; create an ombudsman for Title IX complaints in the Department of Civil Rights and expand anonymous tiplines to report sexual assault.
- Allow the governor to remove trustees at the state’s three universities where boards are elected: Wayne State University, University of Michigan and Michigan State University
- Provide training and expand the list of people who have to report instances of sexual misconduct to authorities to include physical therapists, their assistants and athletic trainers, and increase penalties for people who fail to report those instances.
- Expand the statute of limitations from three to 10 years for crimes of criminal sexual assault and 10 years to file a civil suit to claim damages. Childhood sexual assault victims could file civil suits until they are 28 years old.
The legislation -- most of which are House bills -- now heads to the Senate.
Nassar, who worked as an osteopathic physician at Michigan State for decades, pleaded guilty of multiple sex crimes committed during his time on staff, and was convicted in late January 2018. He is currently serving a 40- to 175-year federal sentence.
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