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ACLU And Others Raise Concerns About Child Protection Bills

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WKAR-MSU
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State Capitol

Survivors of the former MSU sports doctor abuse were among those who testified for the bills. The legislation would also require adults who work with student athletes to report suspicions of abuse.

Civil liberties groups and the Catholic Church are among those who've raised concerns the proposed new rules would be too punitive and, maybe, unconstitutional. 

Those arguments did not sway Senate Judiciary Chairman, Rick Jones. He says coaches, trainers, and others who work with student athletes take on a responsibility.

"They know what they need to do. And if they can't do it, they need to sit in a prison cell nect to Larry Nassar. That's where they belong."

The bills now go to the state Senate floor, where they could be voted on as soon as next week. 

Lawmakers are considering bills to life time limits on criminal charges and lawsuits against people suspected of sexual abuse. A state Senate committee approved the bills today (Tue.). That was despite concerns raised by a civil liberties group and the Catholic church. They say retroactively lifting those limits could be unconstitutional. 

Rachel Denhollander is a former gymnast who first accused MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar of abuse. She says victims deserve their day in court.

"Revising the statute of limitations does not make it easier to prosecute, or to pursue a claim. It simply gives access to their own justice system."

The bills sent to the state Senate floor would also increase the penalties on coaches, trainers and others who don't report complaints of abuse.

A package of bills aimed at protecting children from sexual assault raised red flags with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others.

Lawmakers want to do things like lengthen the statute of limitations for some sexual assault cases. They also want to increase penalties for some people who are require by law to report suspected abuse, but don't.

But the ACLU is worried about unintended consequences. 

Kimberly Buddin is a plicy maker for ACLU-Michigan. She says there are some cases that absolutely need to be reported but sometimes law enforcement isn't the answer.

"We also do not want to create an environment that forces people to choose between facing potential criminal penalties over avoidable, or unnecessary long-term collateral consequences to a family."

A Senate committee passed the legislation today (Tue.). The committee amended one bill to increase the penalty for employees who are required to report abuse but don't. Those people would face a two-year felony.

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