A bipartisan group of House legislators today submitted a plan to better protect Michigan’s children in the wake of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.
The reforms build on previously introduced legislation and include enhanced penalties for distribution, production and financing of child pornography, as well as new penalties for individuals who abuse their positions of authority to stop others from reporting sexual misconduct to area law enforcement.
“This legislation is the next step we’re taking to prevent another individual from preying on children,” said state Rep. Kim LaSata, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education. “Michigan State University’s response to the reports of sexual assault was completely abhorrent by medical, professional and moral standards. These bills will prevent another failure like this from occurring again.”
Another bill in the package would create a new crime for health care professionals who engage in sexual misconduct with a patient under the pretext of medical treatment, which would carry a penalty of up to 25 years in prison along with automatic revocation of their medical license.
The plan will create a requirement for medical professionals who obtain informed consent for invasive treatments on minors, as well as a requirement for procedures involving invasive elements to be detailed in a patient’s medical record, which must be kept for at least 15 years. The legislation also provides higher standards for medical professionals if invasive procedures are to be used.
State Rep. Klint Kesto, a former Wayne County assistant prosecutor, cited the legislation as the inquiry’s “most complete and overpowering response possible” to the Nassar scandal.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from Nassar’s victims. This plan will make it virtually impossible for this kind of predator to exist in Michigan,” said Kesto, chair of the House Law and Justice Committee. “Our medical professionals and school employees must meet a higher standard. Our state’s residents will have more information on procedures. And, most importantly, our children will never feel the violation Nassar’s victims have experienced.”
The package also includes legislation to enhance training for mandatory reporters, as well as bills to establish a Title IX ombudsman dedicated to work with college students and to strongly encourage all public colleges and universities to submit a five-year campus sexual assault improvement plan.
“Sexual assault is a pervasive problem in Michigan and it is critical that we take every step necessary to address it, not just on our college campuses but in our communities. We need to support survivors, protect our young people, and do as much as possible to prevent sexual assault,” said state Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Democratic vice-chair of the House Law and Justice Committee. “I am so proud to have worked with survivors, young women, sexual assault experts, and lawmakers across the aisle to develop this critical legislation.”
Reps. Kesto, LaSata, Chang and Jon Hoadley led a House inquiry into MSU’s handling of sexual assault complaints at the direction of House Speaker Tom Leonard. The House Law and Justice Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education concluded the inquiry last week by releasing dozens of critical findings and recommendations. This legislation comes from those recommendations.
“These bills are critical to changing the law so survivors are supported, abuses can be prevented, and institutions can’t drag their feet,” said Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo), Democratic vice-chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education. “The bills introduced today are an important step to fix a broken system and prevent future tragedies. I look forward to working with my colleagues to see these bills quickly signed into law.”