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Legislation would expand statute of limitations for survivors of sexual assault

people holding hands in a courtroom
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

New legislation would give sexual assault survivors much more time to take their abusers to court.

Last session the legislature change the law to give survivors of abuse by a doctor at Michigan State University their day in court. Now legislation is being introduced to give survivors of alleged abuse by a doctor at the University of Michigan their day in court.

Representative Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township) says instead of changing laws for each new sexual assault scandal, she wants to expand the statute of limitations for all survivors of sexual abuse.

“It's my feeling that we really need to make sure that we allow all of survivors to have access to the legal system and to the justice system to get the justice that they deserve. And my package would do that,” she said.

The law as it stands gives those who were abused as minors until age 28 to make their case. This new package would eliminate the civil statute of limitations in cases where there’s a criminal conviction and expand the limit to age 48 in other abuse cases or seven years after the survivor realized they were abused whichever is later.

“The average age for the childhood survivors to report their abuse is age 52. In Michigan, the statute of limitations expires decades before that, and it really denies survivors justice,” Brixie said.

In a release, the sponsors said the package would give survivors  “who were failed by Michigan’s narrow statute of limitations” in the past a second chance to file claims against their abusers by establishing a two-year window.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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