Advocates push for reform in sexual assault cases

Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 9:37 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX/Gray Michigan State Capitol Bureau) - Many sexual assault survivors hoping to change Michigan law to help survivors.

Proposals introduced in the state legislature would greatly expand the statute of limitations, giving victims of sexual abuse more time to seek justice.

Currently, Michigan only allows victims, who were sexually assaulted as a child, to come forward before their 28th birthday.

“Everybody needs the opportunity to heal,” said Triena Gonczar, Larry Nassar survivor.

Gonczar is one of the hundreds of girls molested by former Michigan State gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar thinking it was a normal medical procedure.

She’s one of many survivors urging lawmakers to change the statute of limitations so more survivors can come forward.

“Survivors of any and every form of sexual violence deserve the same level of justice and human rights that I received in a case so public and privileged and get the justice we did,” said Gonczar.

Nassar survivors were given a 90-day window to report his abuse in 2018.

Child USA, a non-profit focused on preventing abuse, said most don’t come forward until in their 50s.

That’s why State Rep. Julie Brixie, (D) Meridian Township, is proposing changing the statute of limitations to 52.

Brixie introduced a similar bill last year, but it didn’t go anywhere despite bipartisan support.

“I don’t know how anyone can live with themselves if their job causes them to defend and lobby for rapists, to protect rapists. Make no mistake,” said Brixie.

“This is absolutely should not be a partisan issue. There is nothing in progressive thought or conservative thought that condones this type of action,” said Sen. John Damoose, (R) Harbor Springs.

For Gonczar, it’s about helping all survivors.

“Everybody deserves to have the opportunity to have their voice heard,” she said.

Another proposal would guarantee rights for survivors, including being told they can speak with advocates at any time, requiring hospitals to offer free showers after a forensic exam and requiring rape kits to be reviewed right away.

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