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U-M sexual assault bills reintroduced in Legislature 1 year after Robert Anderson investigation

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Posted at 8:26 AM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 08:26:40-05

(WSYM) — A sexual assault legislative package has been re-introduced in the Michigan Legislature one year after the University of Michigan's investigation into former university physician Robert Anderson.

The Michigan's Empowering Survivors sexual assault legislative package has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ryan Berman and Rep. Karen Whitsett.

One year ago, the university announced that it hired an outside law firm to start its investigation of Anderson.

"It's a year later, but Dr. Anderson's survivors are still seeking justice," Berman said in a press release. “By reintroducing these bills, we will help ensure that survivors of abuse are supported in their fight against abusers and anyone who protected abusers.”

Berman and Whitsett introduced the original bi-partisan, survivor-centered justice package on September 16, 2020. Because the bills were not voted on before the end of last year, the two legislators said in December that they planned to start again in 2021.

“It is our duty to support the survivors of sexual abuse, especially when it happens at public institutions,” Whitsett added. “As a survivor, I know how difficult it can be to come forward. That is why we are reintroducing these bills and getting back to work in support of the survivors of abuse by Robert Anderson.”

Many survivors have already publicly supported the Empowering Survivors legislative package, including former U-M football player Jon Vaughn, former U-M wrestler Tad DeLuca, former U-M football player Dr. John Lott and many more.

The legal reforms have received bi-partisan support; they seek to retroactively empower survivors to file suit for damages.

Under the governmental immunity reform bill (Berman – HB 4307), a school’s ability to claim immunity from tort claims would be curtailed when the abuse occurred under the guise of medical care and the school knew or should have known.

Under the statute of limitations reform bill (Whitsett – HB 4306), a new one-year window is created for filing suit by those abused in the past under the guise of medical care, similar to the 90-day window previously allowed by state law for Michigan State’s Nassar survivors.

The bills will be referred to a House committee to begin the legislative process.

Elle Meyers

Elle Meyers

6:12 PM, Apr 12, 2021

State Capitol

Neighborhood Reporter

Elle Meyers