Representatives introduce bipartisan bills targeting sexual misconduct
Following a recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, Michigan House legislators today introduced a bipartisan plan to protect sexual assault survivors. House Bills 4851-4858 were crafted to correct several legal shortcomings highlighted by the 2018 investigation into Larry Nassar.
“Sexual assault survivors deserve protection and justice, and Michigan law must provide real accountability for both abusers and enablers,” said state Rep. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), sponsor of HB 4851. “Our plan will make it safer and easier to report these violent crimes — more swiftly delivering support to survivors and punishment to perpetrators.”
Rep. Julie M. Rogers (D-Kalamazoo), sponsor of HB 4854, said: “Unfortunately, many survivors who speak up are either not believed, or the individual they told failed to report the sexual predator, which allows the assault and abuse to continue. The bills in this package are common-sense, yet desperately needed, policy changes that will help ensure that survivors in our state are protected and able to have their unique and individual needs met.”
Additional bill sponsors include state Reps. Mary Whiteford, Roger Hauck, Annette Glenn, Daire Rendon, Kyra Bolden, and Sara Cambensy.
While several important reforms were enacted into law following the Nassar investigation, the legislators strongly believe further action is necessary. The new bills would:
- Require physicians to retain medical records referencing anal or vaginal penetration for 15 years (Rep. Whiteford).
- Provide sentencing guidelines for physicians intentionally failing to maintain certain medical records (Rep. Hauck).
- Provide permanent loss of medical license for conviction of sexual misconduct under pretext of medical treatment (Rep. Glenn).
- Provide permanent revocation of medical license for sexual misconduct under guise of medical treatment (Rep. Rendon).
- Prohibit using position of authority to prevent reporting of a crime (Rep. Alexander).
- Require distribution of training package to mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse or neglect (Rep. Rogers).
- Exempt identities of parties proceeding anonymously in civil sexual misconduct actions under FOIA (Rep. Bolden).
- Prohibit using position of authority to prevent reporting of certain crimes to university Title IX coordinator (Rep. Cambensy).
The plan was drafted after a thorough review of hundreds of pages of documents, six weeks of committee hearings, and consultation with sexual assault survivors, experts, and other groups.
According to research, the response from the first person a victim tells about their experience greatly impacts whether the victim feels believed and supported, reports the assault, and seeks further help. In addition, many survivors choose not to report because they do not believe the available systems would help them or that authorities would cause them further psychological harm.
Other legislation dealing with sexual assault has been introduced in the Senate, where the Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety has begun taking testimony on Senate Bills 223-227.
The senate sponsors include state Sens. Chang, Theis, Johnson, Lauwers, and Geiss.
HBs 4851-4858 were referred to the House Committee on Judiciary for review.
PHOTO INFORMATION: From left, state Reps. Roger Hauck, Julie Alexander, Julie Rogers, Sara Cambensy, Kyra Bolden, Annette Glenn, Mary Whiteford and Daire Rendon pose on the House floor on Thursday, May 13. The representatives are introducing a plan to protect sexual assault survivors.