Gymnasts To Join Lawmakers Monday To Unveil Bills Aimed At Stopping Sexual Abuse

By Kathleen Gray
Detroit Free Press

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A Dec.5 meeting between gymnast Rachael Denhollander and Michigan state Sen. Margaret O’Brien led to weekly strategy sessions by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to develop a 10-bill package of legislation that will be unveiled today in Lansing.

Detroit Free Press

Michigan state Sen. Margaret O’Brien has known Rachael Denhollander for years.

When Denhollander was growing up in Kalamazoo, she worked on some of O’Brien’s early political campaigns. And when, after becoming a lawyer and moving to Louisville, Ky., Denhollander decided to go public with her story of being sexually abused by former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar, she counted on that connection with O’Brien to turn the story into positive action.

“After she first went public, she asked me if she could meet with legislators. She told us what she had discovered in research and found we were one of the worst states of the nation,” O’Brien, a Portage Republican, said. “The charge was laid out that we had to do something.”

That Dec.5 meeting with Denhollander led to weekly strategy sessions by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to develop a 10-bill package of legislation that will be unveiled on Monday in Lansing.

“This will definitely help. It’s not just a MSU problem. We know there are pedolphiles across the country,” O’Brien said. “It’s not just about Larry Nassar and Michigan State, it’s about getting justice and moving forward.”

The bills will:
* Extend the statute of limitations for civil and criminal sexual abuse claims to 30 years after a person’s 18th birthday;
* Increase the penalties for possessing child pornography;
* Expand the number of people who are mandated to report complaints of sexual abuse to include coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists and increase the penalties for failing to report cases.
* Clarify the law to ensure that governmental entities, including universities and colleges, do not have immunity from civil or criminal cases of sexual assault.

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