LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – A package of bills designed to give greater aide to survivors of sexual assault, while heightening penalties to perpetrators advanced in the House earlier this week. 

Minority Leader for the House Criminal Justice Committee and Representative Graham Filler (R-St Johns) along with a bipartisan effort helped advance his House Bill 4123 which would amend Michigan’s penal code and passed in the House with bipartisan support 102 yes votes to 5 no votes. 

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“I stand with survivors of sexual assault and refuse to let their voices be silenced,” Filler said. “When survivors gather the courage to disclose what they have endured, they should never be pressured to keep quiet by those in authority. They deserve a system where their voices are amplified, their pain is acknowledged, and their courage becomes a catalyst for change.”

The legislation comes as part of Michigan’s effort to improve protections for victims of sexual assault in light of the investigation into former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar’s past crimes. 

The legislation would forbid “intentionally us[ing] the person’s professional position of authority over another person to prevent or attempt to prevent the other person from reporting a crime” such as criminal sexual conduct or child abuse.  

The bill package has received support from numerous groups across the state including the Junior Leagues of Michigan State Public Affairs Committee, which represents nine autonomous Junior Leagues in the state of Michigan, currently representing approximately 2,000 women statewide. 

“These bills have been informed by hundreds of pages of documents, many weeks of past committee hearings, and consultation with survivors, experts, community organizations, advocacy groups, educators, parents, and others to ensure they were approaching the issue of sexual assault from every angle, sealing cracks in the law that may allow future predators to get away with such a heinous crime,” Chair Susie Sherman-Hall of the State Public Affairs Committee of the Michigan State Council of Junior Leagues said in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee. 

According to the House Fiscal Agency, House Bills 4121 and 4122 specifically would address penalties for sexually assaulting a patient under the pretext of medical treatment. 

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“Under the bills, should a physician or other licensed or registered health professional be convicted—whether under Michigan law or under federal law or another state’s law—for sexually assaulting a patient under the guise of performing a medical treatment or procedure, the appropriate licensing board and the state’s regulatory agency would have the authority, and would be required, to permanently revoke that person’s state-issued health profession license or registration. The bills would also, in effect, prevent the state from issuing a medical or health profession license or registration to anyone relocating to Michigan who had been convicted of such conduct in another state or under federal law.”

House Bills 4120-25 now advance to the Senate for further consideration.