Michigan Senate approves Nassar legislation

Michigan Senate approves Nassar legislation

The Michigan Senate is poised to vote on legislation inspired by the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case after changes are made to bills that would retroactively extend the statute of limitations to sue and restrict governments' ability to claim immunity from lawsuits. A gymnast first notified a Michigan State University coach of concerns about Nassar, a sports doctor, in 1997.

Under the legislation, people sexually abused as minors would have a one-year window in which to file suit for claims dating from 1997.

There has been pushback against retroactively lengthening the statute of limitations to sue from universities, governments, businesses, the Catholic Church and others.

People sexually abused as children in MI 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.

Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, where Nassar worked for decades, have been sued by more than 250 girls and women.

That bill pack aims to improve accountability for universities during sexual assault cases, expands the list of mandatory reporters to include athletic trainers, coaches, and physical therapists.

Republican Sen. Mike Shirkey of Clarklake, who voted against numerous bills, said some are "precedent-setting and very unsafe - things that we don't have any clue what the unintended consequences are".

A package of 10 bills, prompted by the Larry Nassar scandal at MSU, has cleared the Michigan Senate and now heads to the House of Representatives.

"Civil retroactivity would hold the people and taxpayers who support today's churches, schools, civic organizations, and local and state government financially accountable for allegations from decades past", the Catholic Conference, the church's lobbying arm, said in a statement.

"At the end of the day, we have to decide whether we want to stand with the survivors or whether we want to stand with the big institutions on this", said Sen. "We have a really unique opportunity to take MI out of the dark ages when it comes to our laws surrounding sexual assault, to give a voice to the victims who have been denied that voice for decades in some cases".