LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — On Wednesday, the Michigan Senate passed a number of bills aimed at giving support and potentially monetary damages to the survivors of sexual assault victims.
The bills were inspired and backed by survivors of Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics sports doctor convicted of sexually molesting a number of his patients. He is accused of molesting hundreds more.
As news of Nassar’s abuse, which dates back two decades, broke, there seemed to be consensus in Lansing that something needed to be done. The question was what.
After the package of bills, referred to as the Protecting Michigan’s Children bills, was rolled out, there was a lot of concern about one that would allow retroactive civil complaints dating back to 1993 (when Nassar got his medical license). Senators worked out a deal that pushed that back to 1997 and added a caveat that anyone who wishes to file a retroactive suit must do so within a year of the bill being signed into law.
State Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, sponsored the bill with that provision.
“Going in to the day, we had some pretty significant concerns (that would have) stripped from the bill package in its entirety,” he told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday. “And what we tried to do at point was really find the voices of those survivors, bring it back into the conversation to make sure we were reminding our colleagues just who it is we’re supposed to be fighting for and who it is we’re supposed to be giving a voice to. The retroactivity component is so important because it allows to the greatest extent possible for every single survivor of Dr. Larry Nassar to have their day in court.”
The state House could take up the bills as soon as next week before it breaks for two weeks. If they concur with the Senate, the bills would head to the governor’s desk.
>>App users: How each senator voted on each of the bills (“EX” means excused; the senator was not present to vote).