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Another hearing likely for ‘Empowering Survivors’ bills

LANSING, MI (MPRN)— A proposed law to extend the statute of limitations for criminal sexual conduct is likely to receive a second hearing in Lansing soon.

The law would also ease barriers that have kept survivors of sexual misconduct by doctors from taking legal action against the doctor or the doctor's employer. The bill, which is in the “Empowering Survivors” package from Rep. Whitsett (D-Detroit) and Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp) would open a year-long window for survivors to sue.

But state Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Twp) said language in the bills specifying that the window only applies to survivors of abuse from physicians is too narrow and unfair to survivors of abuse.

“What that means is that we are defining who has access to justice based on the occupation of the person committing the abuse,” Brixie said.

She introduced her own amendment to the bill. It would remove references to the occupation oft the abuser and extend the statute of limitations beyond what the proposed bill suggests.

Brixie’s amendment would push it to the time an individual is 48 years old or ten years after the claim comes out.

“When you understand that you’re locking people out of access to our justice system because of the delayed disclosure phenomenon, who are you trying to protect?” Brixie asked.

The bills had their first hearing before the House Oversight Committee in September. Similar bills have been introduced in past legislative sessions without getting a hearing.