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Seven sexual assault cases reopened in Lansing suburb

Kaylah Otto

A Lansing-area police department that says it mishandled a complaint against Larry Nassar has reviewed 17 years of sexual assault complaints. Nassar is the former sports doctor who will spend decades in prison for sexually assaulting his patients.

The township has taken a hard look at how it handles sexual assault complaints over the last few months. That’s after Township Manager Frank Walsh and the police department publicly apologized to Brianne Randall-Gay. She’s a survivor of Nassar who filed a complaint with the police department in 2004, but the case never went to the prosecutor’s office for review.  

After the apology, the Meridian Township Police Department said it would review all of the sexual assault complaints it received from 2000 to 2017 – almost 600 of them. Of that 600, over half had already been taken to the prosecutor’s office for review. When it comes to the rest of the cases, most will stay closed for various reasons – like death of a suspect or DNA exoneration. But seven will be investigated further and possibly sent to the prosecutor’s office.

“I’ve got seven cases out of nearly 600, I’m two short of 600,” said Meridian Township Assistant Chief Ken Plaga. “It’s like one percent. In my opinion it’s still one percent too many.”

Along with the investigations, the department has also amped up its trainings for officers on sexual assault cases.

“No one takes preventing sexual assaults more serious than Meridian Township and we’re going to continue to strive to improve and be a model for the state,” said Walsh.

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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