Harsher penalties proposed for failure to report child abuse in wake of Nassar

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) - A package of bills working its way through Lansing would strengthen penalties for those who fail to report suspected abuse of children in Michigan.

The bills would up the maximum penalty for failing to report physical or sexual abuse from 90 days to one year in jail.

RELATED: In Michigan, few prosecuted for failing to report child abuse

“The culture of silence needs to stop,” said State Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, a co-sponsor of the legislation.  “We want to make sure people report in the future.”

The bills were introduced last month in response to the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal, where coaches and trainers are alleged to have been alerted to Nassar’s repeated digital penetration of women but failed to report it to officials.

“This legislation is essential to a survivor’s healing and well-being,” said abuse victim Sterling Riethman at a recent press conference. “It sends survivors the message: you matter.”

The bills would also expand the definition of just who is required to report suspected abuse. Currently, people like trainers and coaches aren’t mentioned under state law.

The new package of bills would change that, saying anyone that works with children in a K-12 educational setting is required to report abuse.

The bills are currently being revised in committee.

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