State lawmakers want to strengthen and expand child abuse protection laws to address gaps that were exposed after former MSU and Olympic sports doctor Larry Nassar admitted to sexually assaulting young athletes. For decades, the abuse went unreported by those who worked with Nassar.
Nasser is behind bars now, but moving forward lawmakers want to ensure those who suspect or see child abuse and choose not to report it, are punished too.
A group of Nassar abuse survivors are fighting for change, saying his repeated sexual assault of young girls could have been stopped decades ago if coaches, athletic trainers or others had listened to them. Nassar's accusers contend in a lawsuit that four current or former university employees they told were mandatory reporters.
Lawmakers say adults that don’t feel a moral obligation to report child sexual assault need additional motivation
Currently, like all states, Michigan requires doctors, nurses, teachers, police, clergy and a few others to report suspected child abuse or neglect to authorities.
A new bill in the state senate would add college employees and youth sports coaches, trainers and even volunteers to the list.
Currently the punishment for NOT reporting is a misdemeanor with a max of 90 days in jail.
Additional legislation would increase punishment to a felony charge with up to 2 years behind bars.
The legislation has bipartisan support, but there’s opposition from the ACLU which is concerned volunteer coaches, who can include high school students and young adults, do not get training they would need to recognize signs of abuse or neglect.
The ACLU is also worried about unintended consequences in instances where no abuse has occurred.