It would be illegal for those in authority to prevent someone from reporting a crime and more people would be mandated to report sexual assaults under a package of legislation inspired by the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University.
Three bills were introduced Thursday in the state House by lawmakers tasked with investigating why Nassar remained employed as an MSU physician nearly 20 years after the first allegations against him were raised to a university official. Nassar was fired by MSU in 2016 and was in recent weeks sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting MSU patients and athletes and others.
“The victims of Nassar stated over and over they felt bullied or prevented from having a voice,” stare Rep. Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township. “This legislation stops that from happening again, while giving multiple options to report this illegal behavior.”
Collectively, the three bills would make it a misdemeanor for those in a position of authority to "prevent or attempt to prevent" someone from reporting a crime, would add coaches and athletic trainers in K-12 school districts, colleges and universities to the list of people required to report to police any allegations or suspicions of sex crimes, and would add sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape to the issues handled by the state's OK2Say anonymous tip line.
Other sponsors of the legislation include state Reps. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, and Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo. State House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt Township, has asked Kesto and LaSata and the committees they chair to investigate MSU's handling of the Nassar allegations.
The Nassar case has inspired other proposed reforms. Kesto in December promised a bill that would prohibit universities from using state revenue to settle lawsuits related to sex crimes. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has called for a new statute creating a truly independent special prosecutor if a conflict exists within the Attorney General's Office. Other lawmakers have called for an end to the statute of limitations on certain sex crimes.
In addition to the Legislature, MSU is being investigated by Congress, the Attorney General's Office, the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Education.
Contact Justin A. Hinkley at (517) 377-1195 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHinkley. Sign up for his email newsletter, SoM Weekly, at on.lsj.com/somsignup.