Victims of Michigan university doctors push for changes to laws

Michigan state lawmakers are joined by a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar and an accuser of late University of Michigan Dr. Robert Anderson for a press conference on Thursday in Lansing to discuss legislation concerning sexual abuse and governmental immunity. From left are, Michigan Rep. Karen Whitsett, former University of Michigan football player Jon Vaughn, Larry Nassar survivor Trinea Gonczar, and Michigan Rep. Ryan Berman. (Anna Nichols/Report for America via AP)


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Report for America

LANSING — Victims of sexual abuse and lawmakers testified Thursday in support of legislation that would give accusers more time to sue for damages and would take away immunity for governmental bodies that knew or should have known about criminal sexual misconduct.

The legislation, which has support from both parties, could allow hundreds of men and women who have accused late University of Michigan sports doctor Robert Anderson of molestation to also sue.

Similar changes were made for people abused as children following the convictions of former sports doctor Larry Nassar. He is serving decades in prison after hundreds of girls and women said he sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment when he worked for Michigan State University and Indiana-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

Changes made in 2018 allowed people who were sexually abused as children to pursue legal action until their 28th birthday or three years from when they realize they have been abused. The new legislation would expand the option to adults and let them file suit until whenever is later: 10 years from when abuse happens, their 28th birthday, or six years — instead of three — from when they realize they were abused.

Democratic bill sponsor Rep. Karen Whitsett said if she could put no statute of limitations on filing for damages, she would. She told the state House Oversight Committee about being sexually assaulted by a medical professional and said it took her a long time to come forward about what happened.