Nassar-inspired laws give childhood sexual assault victims more time to come forward

Rachael Denhollander hugs Det. Lt. Andrea Munford Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, after the third and final day of sentencing in Eaton County Court in Charlotte, Mich., where Nassar was sentenced on three counts of sexual assault. (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP)

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley signed a series of bills that were inspired by the sexual assault cases involving Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor.

Rachael Denhollander, the first to speak out publicly about the sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of Nassar, was there for the signing.

She witnessed the new bills, that she and her sister survivors inspired, get signed.

"There have been statements made to the press that the goal of the legislation was to fix the problem with Larry Nassar,” she said. “That's not accurate. This was our legislative package. We initiated this."

Denhollander said their goals were to give survivors of sexual assault access to the justice system and to hold institutions who enable abusers accountable.

"Because that's how you stop abusers,” she added. “That's how you provide inspiration for institutions to do the right thing."

This new legislation will also give young victims more time to come forward and report abuse and prosecutors more time to file charges against suspects who abused children.

"What gives me confidence is seeing the leadership,” Denhollander said. “These senators and the Lt. Governor had to stand up against political pressure and at times members in their own party to do the right thing."

She said this new legislation has instilled hope within her and she hopes to see more legislation move forward that focuses on protecting victims.

The new laws take effect 90 days after they were signed.

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