House committee to vote on amended Nassar-inspired legislation
The Michigan House of Representatives is prepared to vote on amended legislation made in response to ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse after six weeks of testimony from survivors.
After modifying the package of Nassar-inspired bills passed earlier this year by the Senate, the House committee has announced it is ready to vote on the legislation, which is aimed at preventing child sexual abuse.
Parts of the package of bills include:
- Requiring another medical professional be in the room when invasive medical exams take place
- Increasing the penalties for child pornography possession and distribution
- Requiring physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to report sexual assault or abuse
Bills 871 and 872 were just some of the pieces of legislation modified by the House committee on Tuesday.
These bills were to give survivors of sexual assault more time to sue and to eliminate the statute of limitations on second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor.
However, the House committee scaled back on the statute of limitations. Instead of the initial 30 years, the House committee has modified the time to prosecute crimes related to sexual abuse to 10 years for civil cases and 15 years for criminal cases.
Additionally, the time a survivor of sexual abuse can retroactively sue, dating back to 1997, was shortened from one year to 90 days.
Bills 875-877 originally called for the elimination of governmental immunity for public employees who are made aware of sexual abuse but don't report it. According to Rep. Klint Kesto, the House committee will not be moving forward with the three bills at this moment.
"We believe that government immunity is a taxpayer protection," Kesto said Tuesday night. "Judgments against government entities ultimately are paid for by the taxpayers, and we don't want to put taxpayers on the hook."
One of the terms of last week's $500 million settlement between MSU and the Nassar survivors calls for survivors to withdraw their support for bills aiming to end governmental immunity for the university.
Rep. Stephanie Chang said, overall, these bills take into account the broader issue of sexual assault rather than the Nassar crisis.
"I really believe that the solution that we came up with in our committee is one that balances access, the need for accuracy, fairness and justice in our legal system, regardless of who the victim or perpetrator is," Chang said. "I really believe that, with not just these bills that came from the Senate, but every single one of the nearly 30 bills, we're going to be making really important strides for Michigan survivors and victims for years to come."
Also part of the package of bills is House Bill 5537, Kesto's bill, which would make it a crime for authority figures to prevent someone from reporting sexual assault or abuse.
"I know these aren't exactly about Larry Nassar himself, but there are certain circumstances with the coach, Kathie Klages, saying to the athletes and the gymnasts, 'don't report,' 'this won't be any good,'" Kesto said. "That's using a position of authority to prevent the reporting."
Additionally, House Bill 5982 would make it a crime for an authority figure to prevent someone from reporting to a Title IX officer on a college campus.
The House committee is expected to vote on these bills Thursday, Kesto said.