Michigan Senate passes Nassar-inspired bills

From ESPN - March 14, 2018

LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan Senate on Wednesday passed bills inspired by the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case, voting to retroactively give the imprisoned sports doctor's victims and other accusers more time to sue, restrict governments' ability to claim immunity from lawsuits and require more people to report suspected abuse to authorities.

The legislation was sent to the House for further consideration. It had received pushback from universities, governments, businesses and the Catholic Church over the broader financial implications of facing an unknown number of suits for old claims.

"This package of bills delivers justice, justice for the children who were sexually assaulted," said a lead sponsor, Republican Sen. Margaret O'Brien of Portage.

Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, where Nassar worked for decades, has been sued by more than 250 girls and women. Among the school's arguments in federal court are that many accusers waited too long to sue and that it has immunity.

People sexually abused as children in Michigan generally have until their 19th birthdays to sue, which critics argue is inadequate because victims often wait to report the abuse due to fear or because they repressed it. Under a bill spearheaded by Nassar victims and approved 28-7, those abused as children in 1997 or later would have a one-year window in which to file suit.

In recent days, the Michigan Catholic Conference, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a former state Supreme Court justice and lobbying organizations representing universities, K-12 schools and local governments urged legislators to delay voting or to only advance less divisive proposals. Those include adding college employees, school bus drivers and youth sports coaches, trainers and volunteers to the state's list of people who must report suspected abuse or neglect to child protective services, and stiffening criminal penalties for those mandatory reporters who fail to act.

Republican Sen. Mike Shirkey of Clarklake, who voted against many of the bills, said some are "precedent-setting and very dangerous -- things that we do not have any clue what the unintended consequences are."


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