After changes, Senate passes Nassar-related sex assault bills
In the wake of the ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar sexual abuse case, a package of 10 bills were passed in the Michigan Senate on Wednesday that would give victims of abuse more time to sue, increase the number of people required to report suspected abuse, increase the punishment for those who fail to report, eliminate immunity for those who committed criminal sexual conduct and enhance the felony penalty for child pornography charges.
These bill, senate bills 871-880, were introduced on Feb. 26 and were supported by some Nassar survivors.
The Michigan Senate voted to retroactively give victims of abuse more time to sue in senate bills 871-873. These bills seek to "eliminate the statute of limitations on second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) involving a victim under 18 years old" and allow "an indictment for third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim under 18 to be filed within 30 years after the offense or by the victim's 48th birthday," the bill analysis states.
The senate voted to amend the Child Protection law in bill 874, specifying that if those who are "required to report suspected child abuse or child neglect" knowingly failed to report it if they had direct knowledge of the abuse, they are guilty of a felony. These bills called for the penalty of not reporting to be higher.
Bill 877 eliminated governmental immunity for individuals and entities that have committed sexual assault. The bill analysis states that, "a member, officer, employee, or agent of a governmental agency or a volunteer who engaged in sexual misconduct while employed or acting on behalf of the governmental agency would not be immune under the law from tort liability."
And bill 878 would "prescribe an enhanced felony penalty" for those in possession of child pornography.
This bill package was sponsored by Sen. Margaret O'Brien, Sen. David Knezek, Sen. Rick Jones, Sen. Marty Knollenberg, Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. and Sen. Ken Horn. The legislation will now move to the House of Representatives, where it would have to pass and be signed by Gover. Rick Snyder before it becomes law.
On Wednesday, when the bills were in the Senate, Interim President John Engler visited the Senate to address the legislation, ESPN reports. Engler favored parts of the legislation and asked senators to hold off voting on other parts of the legislation until more "fiscal analysis could be done."
Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of abuse, spoke out against Engler and his visit to the Senate. Her Facebook post reads:
"MSU President Engler personally went to the Senate and tried to kill our legislative package to give assault survivors access to the justice system, and protect children. MSU spokesman Truscott says I have no business expressing concern about this, because I'm talking about something I know nothing about. This is how MSU treats sexual assault victims. Feel safe yet?"
Ultimately, the amended bill package was passed.
"This package of bills delivers justice, justice for the children who were sexually assaulted," O'Brien said in the ESPN article.