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Lawmakers call for "prevention, protection, and accountability" in new sexual assault laws

Feb 12, 2018

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Some Democratic state lawmakers are laying out what they want in new legislation aimed at addressing the problem of sexual assault on college campuses.

Members of the Progressive Women’s Caucus spoke with reporters today about the principles they want the legislation to tackle: prevention, protection, and accountability.   

“While it’s important that we have a strong legal system to address sexual assault after the crime has been committed,” says State Rep. Kristy Pagan, D-Canton, “we must put a priority on prevention to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

Pagan says many young people don’t properly understand what ‘consent’ means. She wants comprehensive education for students on the importance of consent, on what constitutes sexual assault, as well as their rights during sensitive medical procedures.

The lawmakers also say more money is needed to help victims of sexual assault. They want at least a million dollars from the general fund channeled to nonprofits working with the sexual assault survivors.  Right now, existing programs across the state are relying on federal dollars.

State Rep. Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Township, also backs legislation to remove the statute of limitations in assault cases, both criminally and civilly. 

“It is critically important that as we move forward, we also hold the perpetrators of this violence accountable for their egregious acts,” says Lasinski. 

Since the Larry Nassar scandal erupted, legislation has been slowly making its way through the Michigan legislature.

State Rep. Pam Faris, D-Clio, admits to feeling frustrated at the legislative pace on these bills.  

“Some of these they want to hold back so they can do a package of them,” says Faris. “Some of it, there’s too many fingers in the pot. Others, it’s who wants their name on the top of the bill.”