Nassar survivors join Anderson survivors at Capitol to testify
Numerous survivors have already publicly supported the Empowering Survivors legislative package.
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Survivors of Larry Nassar and University of Michigan physician Robert Anderson support a proposal giving sexual assault survivors more time to sue.
The bill package is before the Michigan House Oversight Committee.
The proposals would extend the time for survivors to sue up to a year if they were abused by doctors under the guise of medical treatment. It was extended to 90 days after the Larry Nassar scandal.
“Everyone deserves to have someone confronted about what they have done to them,” said Rep. Karen Whitsett, (D) Detroit, who sponsored the bill.
Rep. Whitsett said she was abused by a doctor.
“I waited to hear the glove snap. That never happened. Someone stood in that room and watched this happen. And said nothing. I’m looking at her looking at me, waiting for some reassurance this was the right thing and nothing was wrong. She gave nothing, she had a blank stare on her face,” said Rep. Whitsett.
She said she’d like to see the limits be lifted for sexual assault survivors.
Larry Nassar survivor Trinea Gonczar said that would be helpful because it sometimes takes time for survivors to come forward.
“At 37 years old was the first moment in my life I realized I was assaulted. Not at 8. Not at 14. Not at 24,” said Gonczar.
Gonczar told lawmakers these would help many survivors, especially if they were kids when the abuse started.
“Just because someone was raped early as a child, they should not be penalized. They still should be protected and offered justice,” she said.
The other proposal would prevent governments and universities from using immunity defenses if they knew about the abuse and didn’t stop it.
“School’s ability to claim immunity from tort claims would be curtailed when the abuse occurred under the guise of medical care and the school knew or should have known,” said Rep. Ryan Berman, (R) Commerce Twp.
“These abuses could’ve been stopped early on, although I did not realize it then. Now I feel a deep shame because there was Michigan personnel who knew about this abuse would seem like routine checkups for most adults, which have become traumatizing for me,” said Jonathan Vaughn, Robert Anderson Survivor.
Jonathan Vaughn, a former U of M star football player, is one of more than 850 former University of Michigan students who claim Robert Anderson sexually assaulted them after being told the abuse was a regular medical checkup.
“My second exam with the semen samples he made an off-handed comment about in the spermology study, haha, I’m attempting to make the perfect black athlete,” said Vaughn.
Gonczar said these proposals won’t stop the suffering of survivors, but they would offer hope for thousands of people in the state.
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