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Nassar survivors say new law is just a start to what’s needed

Rachael Denhollander
Drew, Cooper & Anding
YouTube Video
Rachael Denhollander

A new law extends the statute of limitations for victims of sexual assaults to file lawsuits, and for suspects to face prosecution. It was signed Tuesday by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley while Governor Rick Snyder is out of the country.

The legislation had an army of advocates behind it – the survivors of 20 years of sexual abuse by disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar. But they also say the new law is not enough.

Rachael Denhollander is a former gymnast who says Michigan State University ignored her complaints about Nassar. Denhollander says she and other survivors are happy with the new law.

“But we do want to make it clear this is nothing more than the first step,” she says. “This is bringing Michigan closer to where we need to be, but we have much work left to be done.”

She says that includes expanding the list of people required to report complaints and suspicions of abuse to authorities to include coaches. She also says public institutions like MSU should not be able to claim immunity from lawsuits in cases like hers.

“Michigan still ranks as one of the most restrictive states for giving victims access to the justice system,” she says.

Calley says the advocacy of Nassar survivors was key to getting the bills adopted and credited the group for being able “to face down a political system that has a million ways to stop things from happening.”

“I’m excited and pleased about the changes in law, but I’m more excited about the change in culture that we see starting.”

Denhollander says the plan is to push for more changes when the Legislature returns from a 10-week summer recess. She says she hopes lawmakers seeking re-election will be asked by constituents whether they support the bills.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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