Sexual assault survivors are turning the tables on their attackers.
Brand new bills signed this week give them an extended period of time to go after predators in court, seeking damages for the destruction caused in their lives.
The bills are a result of the fallout from the Nassar scandal and will hopefully prevent something like that from ever happening again.
A legal advocate for a local agency that helps sexual assault victims said it’s about time these laws were passed.
“I would say it’s exciting to actually see a wave of change going on here in society and how we tolerate sexual assault in Michigan,” said Tracy Kaul, legal advocate for the Sexual Assault Center at the Child and Family Services of Saginaw.
The two bills signed into law extends Michigan’s civil statute of limitations, allowing childhood victims to sue up to 10 years after reaching the age of majority or three years after realizing the sexual misconduct had taken place. Current law allows victims three years to file a civil suit or one year past the age of majority.
The legislation also creates a 90-day retroactive window for cases dating back to 1997 involving a physician who was convicted of sexual misconduct under the guise of medical treatment – similar to gymnasts treated by Larry Nassar.
Kaul talked about how the laws help young victims of sexual assault.
“The extension of the statute of limitations really gives an opportunity for victims to continue their healing process and to strengthen their voice, which ultimately leads them to have the courage to report the crimes that have been committed against them,” Kaul said.
She said some victim don’t report their assaults because they feel shame about it.
“And when they do speak out against it, they’re not believed. And so then they just tuck it back in and they don’t talk about it,” Kaul said.
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