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Whitmer signs final batch of sex assault prevention bills

The state capitol building against a cloudy gray sky
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

There are more changes to Michigan laws regarding sexual assaults on minors by medical professionals. The legislation was signed Tuesday by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The laws are largely the product of lessons learned from the case of convicted sexual predator Larry Nassar. It is now a specific crime to abuse a patient under the guise of treatment. The new laws also deal with preservation of medical records, and privacy for victims until a case is filed.

“I am confident that these bills will make a big impact in Michigan by starting to change the culture around sexual assault, ensuring that young people are aware of what sexual assault is and where to go for help, and so much more,” said Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), who chairs the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and led hearings on the bills.

Medical records must now be preserved by a doctor for at least 15 years. And the new laws allow reports of sexual assault allegations to remain confidential until a case is filed.

“We’re protecting victims and survivors from the moment they come forward privately to the moment they’re in court have to provide evidence and witness to what has happened to them,” said Senator Kristen McDonald-Rivet (D-Bay City), a bill sponsor.

The new laws also require a second medical professional to be in the room during some types of examinations on minors and for high school and middle school students to receive age-appropriate instruction about preventing and addressing sexual abuse and assault.

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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