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Judge weighs victims' rights against... victims' rights

Image of a prison fence
Shayan Sanyal/flickr

A Washtenaw County judge is trying to broker an agreement that would allow the state and two counties to collect back child support and restitution from hundreds of women, while still protecting their identities.

More than 500 women were part of $100 million settlement from the state because they were sexually abused while in Michigan prisons. Attorneys for the state and Oakland and Wayne counties want to know whether any of them owe child support or restitution.

Wayne County prosecutor’s office chief of staff Donn Fresard says his office deals with sensitive information every day.

"It is true that they are victims, but they’re victims who have victims. And there’s nothing that makes the money that they got exempt from paying restitution."

An attorney for the women says there’s nothing stopping the state or counties from collecting money from people who owe it. Deborah LaBelle says they don’t need to violate her clients’ privacy to do it.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.