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House committee to pass scaled-back Nassar response bills

University Presidents were at the Capitol Building Wednesday in Lansing, MI
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University Presidents were at the Capitol Building Wednesday in Lansing, MI

Long-debated legislation in response to the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal could move out of House committee. Nassar is the former Michigan State University sports doctor who will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for sexually assaulting his patients.

There are more than 30 bills in the committee in response to Nassar. The committee has made amendments to some of them – but others might not get a vote at all. Bills getting changes include those passed earlier this year by the Senate.

Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, he’s waiting to see what the whole package looks like before deciding if he’s on board.

“I would argue that what we passed was a thoughtful, reasonable, survivor-based plan," he said. "So if it still meets those goals then I think it’s something we probably can find a way to support.”

The committee has changed bills that would give childhood victims of sexual assault more time to sue in civil court or have a prosecutor file charges. The committee plans to pass a version that gives victims more time than current law – But it gives victims less time than the version passed by the Senate.

“We wanted to move the ball down the field and improve the environment for our children. So we’re gonna take what we can get," said state Sen. Margaret O'Brien, R-Portage. "Obviously it doesn’t go as far as the Senate, but we’re moving the ball down the field. So we’ll take it.”

The bills received pushback from several organizations – including universities and the Catholic church. They were concerned that if too much time is allowed to pass, the accused couldn’t fairly defend himself or herself in court.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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