Nassar survivors, AG candidate Miles speak out against Nessel comments
Two survivors of ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar's abuse joined Democratic Attorney General candidate Pat Miles at a press conference on Thursday, criticizing comments made by fellow Democratic candidate Dana Nessel.
University of Michigan freshman Morgan McCaul and Ferris State student Jessica Smith criticized Nessel for her interview with MIRS, in which the candidate expressed concerns with sexual assault legislation such as the bill package currently being pushed through the legislature.
"As much as we don’t like to think that false accusations ever happen, they sometimes do," Nessel said to MIRS. "We have to also protect the rights of criminal defendants, so I look at it from both sides."
Included in the bill package are provisions that would eliminate the statute of limitations on second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor, and extend the statute of limitations for third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor to 30 years.
The bills passed the Senate in March and are currently are pending in the House Law and Justice Committee.
Miles, a former U.S. Attorney for Michigan's Western District under then-President Barack Obama, said he "fully supports" the bill package.
Nessel, an attorney based in Plymouth Township, Michigan, repeatedly stated in that interview that she had not read the bills and wanted to review them further before voicing her support or lack thereof.
At the press conference, McCaul said she was "disgusted" by Nessel's comments.
"I believe ... that children should be afforded the full protection of the law in this state, despite the challenge that might make for some defense attorneys — challenges which pale in comparison to the trauma that survivors face in the aftermath of their assaults," McCaul said.
Smith voiced her support for the bill package, and children's accusations should not be taken lightly simply because of their age.
"As a child, you do not have to understand what happened to you to be completely traumatized by it," Smith said.
In the MIRS interview, Nessel said she was concerned about allegations coming from people who had been "adults for many, many years" as a result of the bill package's passage. Smith took issue with that, saying extending statutes of limitations would not lead to less-accurate accusations.
"I can say as a survivor that I don't believe in a 'foggy memory,'" Smith said. "These are things that we relive every day in our dreams — it's our reality."
Smith appeared to endorse Miles for the Attorney General position at the press conference, despite Miles' insistence that it was not a political event.
"Unfortunately, there are many more predators out there, and that is why I see such an importance for a trusted person like Pat Miles to hold the position of Michigan Attorney General," Smith said. "As a survivor of Larry Nassar, it is vital to me that who will be the candidates for the 2018 election for the Michigan Attorney General are supporters of those healing from sexual assault."
Following the survivors' statements, Miles did not comment on questions from multiple reporters as to the source of his attacks on Nessel. Nessel has accused him of using opposition research compiled by the Republican Attorneys General Association, RAGA, as first reported by Pride Source.
"It is appalling that he is using research from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) to attack me," Nessel said in a statement.
There is nothing in the 40-page RAGA document that directly mentions her comments on the sexual assault bill package.
Nessel, in the same statement, attacked Miles' press conference as exploiting the survivors of Nassar's abuse for political gain.
"To the Nassar survivors who spoke out, I sincerely support your honesty and continued advocacy," Nessel said. "I regret that your important work, conducted with integrity and bravery, has been co-opted in this way."