'Sick, embarrassing, unfortunate,' House members react to Chatfield allegations

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 18:16:41-05

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — The first session of 2022 of the Michigan House of Representatives had some members reacting to sexual assault allegations against former House Speaker Lee Chatfield.

Michigan State Police confirm they’re investigating allegations from Chatfield’s now sister-in-law. She told Bridge Michigan that it all started with she was 15 or 16 and a student at Chatfield’s father’s private Christian school in Cheboygan County and continued for ten years.

Lee Chatfield’s brother Aaron also tells Bridge that he drove his brother to Detroit to a strip club and Shinola Hotel to meet women in and out of Government.

The current House Speaker and Speaker Pro tem declined to comment.

Gideon Dassandro is their spokesman who told reporters, “MSP and Lansing police department already looking into this, and so the House reached out and made contact and offered any help and coordination with them.”

State Rep. John Damoose now represents the district where Chatfield is from.

He gave 7 Action News this reaction, “My home district? Well I mean, we feel shocked by this. I had no idea that there was even a potential with this.”

There is precedent in the Michigan House for an internal investigation. Six years ago House Members Ted Courser and Cindy Gamrat admitted to having an affair and were investigated for using their office for unofficial business.

State Rep. Bob Bezotte is the former Sheriff in Livingston County and tells 7 Action News there should be an independent internal investigation adding, “Even when we were investigating people internally, you'd have a criminal investigation. That administrative investigation and they can run concurrent.”

Chatfield’s attorney on Friday released this statement:

Mr. Chatfield is innocent of the false rape claims made against him. He had affairs while he was married, including a sexual relationship with the woman who is now claiming she was raped. Their affair lasted for years, but they were both consenting adults.  Mr. Chatfield deeply regrets the decisions he has made. It has caused great pain to his wife and family, and they are working through this together. But he did not assault this woman in any manner during their years-long adult relationship. He intends to vigorously fight these false claims.