Michigan State University | Susan J. Demas
In the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, the Michigan House on Wednesday passed a package of legislation aimed at preventing future cases of sexual abuse.
Nassar is the former Michigan State University gymnastics doctor who sexually assaulted more than 200 female patients over several years and is now serving between 40 and 175 years in prison.
By overwhelming margins, the body passed a series of bills that supporters say will prevent much of what happened in the Nassar cases.
House Bill 4383, sponsored by Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette), would “prohibit an individual from intentionally using his or her professional authority over another person to prevent or attempt to prevent that other person from reporting certain crimes.” House Bill 4374 contains similar language.
Also passed as part of the package was House Bill 4108, sponsored by state Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Mount Pleasant), and House Bill 4377, sponsored by Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton Twp.). The bills add athletic trainers, physical therapists and their assistants to list of professions mandated to report child abuse or neglect.
The bills will now head to the state Senate.
State Rep. Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan) told reporters on Wednesday that the legislation was a top priority for her personally, as she’s a former gymnastics coach, as well as the House as a whole.
“It’s a priority … to take every step necessary to fix the broken system and prevent future tragedies,” Griffin said, adding she believes the bills will do that. “It’s increasing the number of responsible adults that are in the positions that can better catch [criminal sexual assault] when it happens.”
Griffin added that she wanted to include coaches as mandatory reporters in the legislation as well, but ran into roadblocks because some coaches are considered full-time employees, while others are deemed part-time.
“It was getting too difficult to define that and what that meant,” Griffin said, referring to the bills that passed on Wednesday as part of a legislative compromise. “I think that the bills represent significant steps forward in helping protect the kids.”
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