WATCH: Nassar, Anderson survivors support bills for university accountability, statute of limitations

Michigan

DEWITT, Mich. (WLNS) — Two weeks ago, four accomplished United States athletes pleaded for justice by sharing their heartbreaking stories of abuse at the hands of former plead U.S. Olympic team doctor, Larry Nassar.

Today, their attorney and one of Michigan’s most well-known athletes are asking the Michigan legislature to pass Bipartisan House Bills 4306 and 4307 inspired by survivors who were sexually assaulted by former University of Michigan doctor Robert Anderson.

At 10:30 a.m. the Michigan House of Representatives Oversight Committee listened to the testimonies by survivors of Larry Nassar and Robert Anderson in support of HB 4306 and HB 4037 at the Anderson House Office Building Room 326.

Olympic gold medalist and Michigan native Jordyn Wieber is a Nassar survivor.

“Working together we were able to convince Congress to enact new laws to protect Olympic athletes from predators like Larry Nassar,” Wieber said in a statement. “Now we are asking the Michigan state legislature to do its part on behalf of all Michigan victims of criminal sexual abuse by doctors.”

Like reforms enacted in 2018 to help victims sexually abused by former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar, advocates say these bills pursue justice against university employees accused of sexual assault and make universities responsible for their failure to prevent the sexual assault.

John Vaughn played football for the U of M, discussing experiences as a victim, as well as the university’s inaction in his situation. John Vaughn named Paul Schmidt, a trainer who was the “gatekeeper” for football players to Anderson.

According to Vaughn, Schmidt was also responsible for hiring Nassar back in the ’80s.

Schmidt is now the Associate Athletic Director for the University of Michigan.

“This will go down as the largest sexual abuse rape cover-up in the history of sports,” said Vaughn.

U of M alumna and former tennis player Cathy Kalahar recalled an instance in which Dr. Anderson had allegedly raped her during her initial physical. Kalahar was only 18, and sought out help, but was told by the university therapist that she was not raped, but was having “sexual fantasies”.

HB 4306 (Whitset) extends the statute of limitations for victims of criminal sexual conduct, including opening a one-year retroactive window to commence a civil action for victims of criminal sexual conduct under the guise of medical treatment.

HB 4307 (Berman) limits a university’s ability to claim legal immunity when the criminal sexual conduct occurred under the guise of medical care and the school knew or should have known but failed to act to stop future instances of criminal sexual conduct.

“The brave survivors of Larry Nassar who testified before the Senate – Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols might never have met Larry Nassar if this law had been in place. MSU had complaints about Nassar for more than 20 years, did nothing and tried to hide behind Michigan’s outdated statute of limitations and government immunity laws.  This bipartisan legislation will make it possible for victims of sexual abuse by University doctors like Larry Nassar and Robert Anderson to hold their abusers and enablers fully accountable.”

Nassar survivors’ lead attorney John Manly

State Rep. Julie Brixie of Meridian Township released a statement regarding today’s hearing.

Today, we heard the tragic stories of survivors who were failed by Michigan’s exceedingly narrow statute of limitations. For decades, survivors were only given three years to file civil claims. This meant survivors of sex abuse at age 8 were expected to bring claims by the time they were 11 years old. It is a morally reprehensible law that continues to protect predators and prevent survivors from being able to access our justice system. I support the passage of these bills, as they will give survivors of Anderson, Nassar and other abusive doctors access to our justice system. However, we must recognize that the vast majority of predators are still being protected by our laws, which is why we need far broader legislation. This legislation will give survivors of doctors one year to file claims in civil court, but it tragically won’t do anything for tens of thousands of people who have been abused by family and friends and in many other facets of life. Michigan is the only state in the nation that restricts access to justice based on the occupation of the abuser.”

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