LANSING, Mich., April 20, 2023 — State Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) and state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) today applauded passage of bipartisan legislation through committees in both the Michigan House and Senate that would prevent sexual assault by closing loopholes in Michigan law.
“I am proud that this bipartisan group of legislators from both chambers is working together to fight for these brave survivors. Yesterday’s vote is an important step forward to finally getting these bills signed into law,” said Rogers, who chairs the House Health Policy Committee. “Research has shown us time and time again that professionals fail to report more than half of suspected child abuse cases to the proper authorities. This demonstrates the need for mandated reporters to be trained to understand their responsibilities and the correct process to report these crimes, so victims receive the justice they deserve.”
The legislation, House Bills 4120-25 and Senate Bills 66-74 and SB 236, is part of a joint, comprehensive effort by members of both chambers and both parties to protect sexual assault survivors. They would prohibit the use of professional authority to prevent the proper reporting of sexual misconduct and encourage people to report sexual abuse, and ensure that all students in grades 6-12 receive educational materials about sexual assault.
The bills were developed in 2018 in response to incidents — including those involving former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted of abusing hundreds of athletes under the guise of medical care, and the late Dr. Robert Anderson, who was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of former University of Michigan athletes — but failed to obtain full passage in previous legislatures.
“This package of bills gives a powerful voice to the voiceless,” said Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, 30th Circuit Court. “They send a strong message that complicity in being a silent bystander, criminal actor or co-conspirator of predatory conduct — including criminal sexual assault, child abuse and violations of Title IX — will finally be the top priority that it always should have been.”
“It’s simply past time that we have laws on the books that move our state forward in preventing sexual assault, protecting survivors and holding people who abuse their position of authority to condone sexual misconduct accountable,” added Chang, who is leading the complementary bill package in the Senate and is the chair of the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety Committee. “We have been promising survivors for years that we would do everything we can to protect the people of Michigan so no one else suffers what they went through. The time has arrived for us to deliver on that promise with a new Legislature that not only still hears their voices, but intends to respond to and support them.”
If passed and signed into law by the governor, the bills would:
Sexual Misconduct Education
- Require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to create training materials for mandated reporters of suspected child abuse or neglect [HB 4120, sponsored by Rogers].
- Require the Department of Education to make materials regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment available to school districts, and require districts to provide those materials to students in grades 6-12 [SB 66, sponsored by Chang].
Sexual Assault Under Pretext of Medical Treatment
- Require an investigation and disciplinary action when a health licensee is convicted of sexual intercourse under the pretext of medical treatment [HBs 4121 and 4122, sponsored by state Reps. Kelly Breen (D-Novi) and Kara Hope (D-Holt), respectively].
- Amend the Penal Code to create two new offenses: Sexual contact under the pretext of medical treatment and sexual penetration under the pretext of medical treatment [SB 67, sponsored by state Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway Township)].
- Amend the sentencing guidelines in the Code of Criminal Procedure to include the two new felonies proposed by SB 67 [SB 68, sponsored by state Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor)].
Informed Consent for Sensitive Services to Minor Patients
- Prohibit medical professionals from performing certain sensitive procedures and examinations on minor patients unless it is in the scope of their practice, a medical assistant or other medical professional was in the room, and the minor’s parent or guardian gave consent, and create a felony penalty for a violation [SBs 69 and 70, sponsored by state Sens. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) and Ruth Johnson (R-Holly), respectively].
Preservation of Medical Records
- Require medical professionals to preserve a patient’s medical records for medical services involving vaginal or anal penetration for a minimum of 15 years and create penalties for a violation [SBs 71 and 72, sponsored by state Sens. Roger Hauck (R-Union Township) and Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City), respectively].
Reporting of Offenses
- Prohibit individuals from using their position of authority to prevent the reporting of committed or attempted child abuse or criminal sexual conduct offenses [HB 4123, sponsored by state Rep. Graham Filler (R-Clinton County)].
- Prohibit a person from using their professional position of authority to prevent the reporting of an alleged crime involving criminal sexual conduct and child abuse to a Title IX coordinator [HB 4124, sponsored by state Rep. Carol Glanville (D-Walker)].
- Prohibit school districts from expelling a student for more than 10 school days for actions the student took immediately before, immediately following, or that could be reasonably tied to an incident of reported sexual assault [HB 4125, sponsored by state Rep. Carrie A. Rheingans (D-Ann Arbor)].
- Modifies the definition of mentally incapacitated for sexual assault offenses [SB 236, sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor)].
FOIA Exemption for Sexual Misconduct Victim Identification
- Provide a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption for any information that would reveal the identity of a party who proceeds anonymously in a civil action in which that party alleges that they were the victim of sexual misconduct [SB 73, sponsored by state Sen. Sue Shink (D-Northfield Township)].
Earlier this month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Michigan. The bills will continue to advance to the full House and Senate for votes by each chamber.
If you or someone you know has experienced any form of domestic violence or assault, call 911, or Michigan’s Confidential 24/7 Sexual Assault Hotline at 855-VOICES4, or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).