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child abuse

A small group of women (including some not pictured here) have met up to share and process their alleged abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar. From left: Christine Harrison, Larissa Boyce, Jennifer Smith, and Alexis Alvarado
Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

This year, more than 120 women and girls found out they’re part of the same terrible club.

As children and teens, they were all allegedly abused by former Michigan State University and Olympic gymnastics sports doctor, Larry Nassar.

Now, as Nassar considers a plea deal next week on multiple sexual assault charges, some of these women and girls are meeting for the first time.
 

Nassar in court.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

“Bubba will be his new bed partner.”

“Special circle of hell waiting for him.”

Those are just a couple of the Facebook comments Larry Nassar’s attorneys submitted to Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina last month, as part of their bid to move his upcoming trial out of the county.

It’s evidence, they argue, that after all the “inflammatory” media coverage of Nassar’s alleged sexual assaults, he can’t get a fair trial in the county where he’s lived and practiced for years.

The "Sparty" statue on the MSU campus
Betsy Weber / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Larissa Boyce has good days and bad days.

Today is a good day. Boyce’s husband, Adam, a teacher, and their three oldest kids are at school, leaving just her and three-year-old Skyler to visit Grandpa and the central passion of Skyler’s life: Grandpa’s tractor.

“All done with tractor,” Skyler announces solemnly at the end of their ride. (A few minutes later: “Go tractor?”)

A courtroom
Bill Ledbetter / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Larry Nassar could get anywhere from five to 60 years in federal prison. That’s the range Judge Janet Neff will consider at a sentencing hearing in federal court, which was just scheduled for November 27.

Nassar, who used to be the lead doctor for USA Gymnastics and was a popular clinician at Michigan State University, has been accused of sexual assault and abuse by more than 100 women and girls.

Larry Nassar mug shot
Michigan Attorney General's office

Jeanette Antolin says she feels like federal prosecutors “lied straight to my face.”

A member of the U.S. women’s gymnastics national team from 1995-2000, Antolin says Larry Nassar sexually abused her for years in his role as team doctor. Nassar was also a professor and clinician at Michigan State University until he was fired in 2016.

Prison bars
powelli / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A former camp counselor from suburban Detroit was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for taking nude photos of young boys and posting them online. The judge who sentenced 22-year-old Matthew Kuppe said he thought the sentence was too harsh, but Kuppe's plea deal left him with no choice. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry take a closer look at the case.

They also talk about former state Sen. Virgil Smith's possible bid for a Detroit Council seat, a lawsuit to force state Attorney General Bill Schuette's office to turn over personal emails that discuss public business, and a push to ban  7-day auto insurance plans in Michigan. 

Two summers ago, something happened that gave parents nightmares throughout the Detroit area. A 20-year-old camp counselor at a Jewish community center was discovered to have been secretly photographing little boys naked and posting them on a Russian child porn website.

He also had written vivid fantasy descriptions of doing things to them, though a massive investigation turned up no evidence that he had ever touched a child.

Elaina Brown, left, and Kelly Williams sit in court during their preliminary examination on felony charges.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A judge has dismissed felony charges against two Child Protective Services workers, who were accused of failing to protect a three-year-old boy from his mentally ill mother.

Social workers Elaina Brown and her supervisor, Kelly Williams, were charged with involuntary manslaughter and child abuse.

The charges stem from the death of three-year-old Aaron Minor, who was found dead in May in the Detroit apartment he shared with his mother. His mother Deanna Minor, who had been missing, was found in a psychiatric hospital.

Prison bars
powelli / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Detroit man is going to prison for 25 to 50 years, after his 9-year-old son was accidentally shot by a sibling.

It's one of several cases where prosecutors are going after adults for leaving guns where kids can find them.

On November 9, the 9-year-old boy and his then-10 year old sister were playing in their dad's bedroom and acting out a video game.

Lawyers with the Michigan Innocence Clinic say they believe at least two people have been wrongfully imprisoned for child abuse because they say medical experts misdiagnosed shaken baby syndrome.

The clinic’s attorneys are representing Joshua Burns, of Brighton, and Terry Lee Caesor of St. Clair County. Juries have convicted both men of child abuse.

Cheyna Roth

About 60 protesters gathered outside the University of Michigan hospital campus in Ann Arbor Wednesday, campaigning against what they say is a flawed child abuse investigation into a Brighton family and a “financial conflict of interest” between the hospital and Child Protective Services.

Last spring, Josh and Brenda Burns saw their infant daughter, Naomi, rushed to the U of M hospital in an ambulance after she became unresponsive three days into an illness.

Runar Pedersen Holkestad / Creative Commons

The federal government will help Michigan come up with a policy over the summer to help traumatized children.

Michigan, California and Massachusetts will get help from the Department of Justice. Each state will develop a comprehensive plan to identify, screen and treat children exposed to violence.

Michigan League for Public Policy

An annual report that looks at the well-being of children in Michigan shows more kids are growing up in poverty.

One in four kids lives in a household at or below the poverty line. But African-American children are twice as likely to live in poverty.

“The disparities are very troubling,” said Jane Zehnder-Merrell. She heads the project for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Michiganradio.org

Judges, attorneys and families involved in child abuse and neglect cases can now get information about the legal process in a single place online.

A division of the Michigan Supreme Court designed the new online toolkit.

Marcia McBrien is a court spokeswoman.

“They’re complex cases, they’re very difficult,” she said. “They’re very fact intensive. So judges and attorneys who are handling these cases really need to be well educated and to know what they’re doing.”

McBrien says a lot of judges and attorneys who never used to handle child abuse cases are now.

That’s because of a couple of factors.

The market for lawyers has become more competitive and courts have been consolidating.

The hope is that the online toolkit will help children get placed in the right homes more quickly.

The state investigated more than 90,000 complaints of child abuse or neglect in 2012. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Court of Appeals says a minister cannot be charged with failing to report child abuse based on conversations with a parishioner.

The court ruled those were privileged conversations.

This particular question had never been litigated before. And it is how far do privacy protections for clergy extend when it comes to reporting child abuse?

In this case, a woman went to her pastor, John Prominski, for advice when she suspected her husband was abusing her daughters. Their first talk was in 2009.