Michigan State University joins fight over statute of limitations

MSU files brief in support of OSU amid sexual abuse scandal
In court, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State are on the same side.
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 6:42 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan State, the University of Michigan, and Ohio State University are on the same side trying to get judges to limit the amount of time sexual-abuse survivors have to file lawsuits.

MSU and UM are siding with Ohio State in a suit filed by the survivors of Ohio State’s wrestling team against former team doctor Richard Strauss. Other Midwest universities have sided with OSU as well.

News 10 spoke with Jamie White, the attorney for survivors of Larry Nassar and Robert Anderson. His experience representing them has convinced him that the statute of limitations for sexual-abuse lawsuits needs to be extended.

“These laws involving sexual abuse, are archaic. We’re one of the worst states in the country when it comes to dealing with these issues,” said White.

He’s been working with Michigan’s legislature, to make these changes in the hopes of supporting survivors.

“There’s a very serious discussion going on right now, bipartisan discussion, about changing our laws here in the state of Michigan.” said White, “Not only as it pertains to the statute of limitations, but setting boundaries for professional organizations.”

He says the legalities can be confusing, but that Michigan State and Michigan are essentially siding with Ohio State’s fight to get survivors’ lawsuits dismissed.

“So they (MSU) supported an Ohio brief, where the statute of limitations is two years. So that is the essence of the argument in Ohio, is that these men didn’t file their claims in time. Michigan State has joined that argument.”

White says he can see both sides of the issue. On one hand, MSU wants clarity on the statute of limitations. On the other hand, survivors want to see support for limitations that give people more time to report.

White said, “If you take them at face value, you know, they’re looking for clarity right? They’re not necessarily saying that they want the two years to be the fact. They just want clarity you know, based on some decisions that were made in the court.”

MSU confirmed White’s comment in a statement to News 10. The statement says, “Michigan State University joined the brief because there is now confusion and uncertainty among the courts and universities within the 6th circuit regarding title ix’s rules and scope. Clarification is needed not just for Ohio State in this particular case, but for all universities subject to title ix.”

While White agrees with the need for clarity, he wishes the schools were siding with the survivors.

Right now, sex-assault survivors in Michigan have ten years after the incident to file a lawsuit, or until their 28th birthday, whichever comes later. The time limit is extended to 15 years if the survivor was a minor when the abuse happened. A bill in the legislature would change the rules, but it’s been stalled for several months. Ohio’s statute of limitations is two years.

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