The newest iteration of the ongoing sexual misconduct scandals rocking our nation involves changes to Michigan’s laws.
If you have lived in the state for any length of time, you may have heard about the bribery and racketeering that seems commonplace for those holding public office in Detroit. At least that was the case for a time.
Now that some of our former leaders are behind bars or newly out of low-security prison, the spotlight is focused on John Conyers. He is the 88-year-old Michigan State Representative who served more than 50 years in his seat in Congress.
Conyers retired abruptly when claims made against him of sexual misconduct began to surface from more than one source.
The other bit of scandal coming out of that story was about Conyers using tax dollars to pay off an accuser.
The Larry Nassar Sexual Misconduct Case
Then there is the Larry Nassar case. This one involves literally hundreds of victims and plaintiffs, all accusing Nassar of sexual assault. Nassar pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.
The State of Michigan wants to make it very clear, just in case Michigan State University or any other college or university isn’t clear on this. The message is that using state funds to settle sexual misconduct lawsuits shouldn’t be possible.
Michigan’s Sexual Misconduct Bills
Now there are three bills out there aiming to prevent this kind of thing from happening.
Representative Gary Glenn was quoted as saying, “When I heard that John Conyers’ accuser was being paid with tax dollars, my thought was I can’t believe we have to pass a law that you shouldn’t use tax dollars to pay off somebody’s misconduct in office.”
Michigan House Bills 5397 and 5405 address this. They would prohibit the use of public funds to settle legal claims or pay judgments involving gross negligence, intentional misconduct, criminal conduct or sexual misconduct by public officials. Its sponsors are: Reps. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, Gary Glenn, R-Williams Township.
In 2015, according to a Detroit Free Press article, the Michigan House of Representatives had already dealt with this issue. It settled a lawsuit brought by Tramaine Cotton in 2013 after he was fired from the former state Rep. Brian Banks’ office.
Cotton accused Banks of firing him when he refused Banks sexual advances.
However, Banks denied allegations. In fact, he maintained Cotton was fired for driving on a suspended license.
Banks was an employee of the state. He ended up having to settle the lawsuit for $11,950 and pay $85,622 to a law firm to represent the state in the lawsuit.
This new legislation could make it a lot harder on those accused of sexual misconduct in office. However, it will at least force them to pay for their own legal bills.
What do you think? Will these new bills, if they get passed into law, make it easier or harder for those who hold public office to “get away” with sexual misconduct?
Additionally, will those who hold office be deterred by knowing the government won’t pay their legal bills?
In conclusion, if you’re charged with a crime relating to sexual misconduct in the workplace, call my office today. You need someone who will diligently fight for you.