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Michigan lawmakers want to give people more time to sue over sexual abuse. Their bills just got a major step forward

jon vaughn house oversight testimony
Michigan House Oversight Committee
Jon Vaughn, left, testifies in support of bills sponsored by state Rep. Ryan Berman, right, during a Michigan House Oversight Committee meeting on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2021. Vaughn, a former University of Michigan football player, is among the hundreds of people who say they were sexually abused by the late sports doctor Robert Anderson.

Updated on October 1, 9:47 a.m. ET

Jon Vaughn, now 51, says he was raped repeatedly by the late physician Robert Anderson.

But, as Vaughn told Michigan’s House Oversight Committee, he didn’t realize what was going on when he was a young football player ordered to see Anderson for physicals.

“I was an ignorant and naïve 18, 19, and 20-year old like hundreds of other scholarship athletes," Vaugh said Thursday. "(We were) blue-collar kids who did not know what was and what was not proper medical care. We trusted our doctors and especially trusted U of M doctors.”

Bipartisan bills are advancing in Michigan’s Legislature to give people more time to sue over sexual abuse. The proposals are a response to hundreds of people who say they were sexually assaulted by Anderson.

Nearly identical bills died after lawmakers introduced them last term. The latest version of the legislation got a major step forward during a hearing on Thursday.

One bill from state Rep. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit, would create a special one-year window during which victims of past sexual abuse under the guise of medical treatment could sue. It’s similar to a 90-day window created for survivors of sexual abuse by former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Whitsett says she was sexually assaulted as a young woman during what should have been a routine gynecological exam.

“I waited to hear the glove snap," Whitsett through tears during a news conference Thursday. "That never happened.”

Another bill from state Rep. Ryan Berman, R-Commerce Township, would limit governmental immunity in situations when someone is sexually abused under the guise of medical treatment or when people at a public institution knew or should have known about the abuse.

Trinea Gonczar, a survivor of Nassar's abuse, joined Anderson's accusers in testifying in support of the bills.

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