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New proposal would make it easier for sexual assault victims to come forward in Michigan

Sex assault survivors said it can take them several years to heal
New proposal would make it easier for sex assault victims to come forward in Michigan
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 6:31 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - State lawmakers want to make it easier for sexual assault survivors to come forward.

A proposal with bipartisan support aims to extend the statute of limitations for someone to file criminal charges.

Background: Bipartisan bill would extend statute of limitations on sexual assault cases in Michigan

Survivors of sexual assault said it can take them several years to heal before coming forward about their abuse. They said Michigan’s current law isn’t practical.

“As it stands, it’s nearly impossible to come forward in the time limit they give,” said Isabelle Brourman.

Michigan only allows criminal sexual assault complaints until the victim turns 28-years-old or three years after they find out they were abused.

Child advocacy group Child USA said it’s one of the strictest laws in the country.

“It’s harmed a lot of us survivors,” Brourman said. “We think it’s time we are prioritized instead of predators.”

Brourman said former University of Michigan professor Bruce Conforth assaulted her her from 2013 to 2018.

The new proposal would give survivors like her until their 48th birthday, 10 years from the sexual assault, or seven years once they find out they were abused.

“Survivors need time to heal,” Brourman said. “This would give us the cushion we need to heal and come forward in a more safe way.”

The law was changed four years ago to allow Larry Nassar survivors to come forward. The legislature was working on amending the law again for survivors of former University of Michigan Dr. Robert Anderson.

Brourman said it’s time for the law to apply to everyone, not just on a case-by-case basis.

“I think it’s a disgrace. I’m frustrated because I have to continue to work and tell my story and we have to continue to rally around why it’s important we’re heard,” said Brourman.

She said the proposal is for all sexual assault survivors.

“It’s a really realistic ask. All we want is to have a safer future for other survivors,” said Brourman.

The bill package introduced Wednesday is similar to a set of bills the Michigan senate passed in 2018, but it was scaled back to only apply to Larry Nassar survivors.

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