Since the scandal of ex-Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse of more than 100 girls and women erupted, Michigan’s mandatory reporting laws have been under scrutiny.
Now, a three-bill package is being introduced in the State of Michigan that would make coaches and trainers mandatory reporters for criminal sexual conduct offenses.
What Does This Mean for Michigan Sports?
There were a variety of problems brought up during Nassar’s sentencing hearings. Not only were there reports of his abuse. There were many stories from numerous victims who said they had told someone. However, their reports never went much further.
For years Nassar was able to get away with abuse. The adults in power around him were calling it valid intervaginal treatment and silencing his victims.
Up to this point, K-12 coaches and trainers were not required to report allegations of abuse.
State representatives have called this “completely unacceptable.”
Here is what this bill package would do:
- Make it a crime – a misdemeanor – for a person to use their position of authority to attempt or prevent someone from reporting a crime.
- Add sexual abuse, assault or rape to the state of Michigan’s OK2Say program. This is the confidential reporting program for criminal activities of this nature on school grounds
20 Years of Crimes Could Have Been Prevented
Larissa Boyce is a former gymnast under MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages. She told her coach in 1997 that she was uncomfortable with Nassar’s intravaginal treatment.
If her concerns had been taken seriously, his abuse could have been stopped two decades earlier.However, she said that instead, she was treated like she had disrespected this famous doctor.
Under this new legislation, it would be illegal to do what Kathie Klages did – not to report an allegation of abuse.
If these bills pass, the Kathie Klages of the world – and all the other coaches and trainers who had to turn a blind eye themselves – would be facing criminal charges as well.
Not only does this legislation compel coaches and trainers to report, it makes it easy for people to report a crime anonymously. That means, if you see or hear something that doesn’t sound right, you don’t have to fear for your job or your safety for reporting it.
House bills 5537, 5538 and 5539 were referred to the House Law and Justice Committee for further review.
In conclusion, if you see something that is clearly not right, it takes a lot of courage to stand up and report it to authorities. Larry Nassar had prestige and fame in his field. In addition, he also had a whole bunch of other adults either covering for him or willing to not believe the girls and parents who came to them.
Hopefully, the bills will pass. The changes to Michigan’s mandatory reporting laws will help those who are not sure what the right thing to do is. It will be crystal clear that people should report a sexual assault or sexual abuse. It is the right thing, and Michigan law is about to, finally, reflect that.