State lawmakers push changes to abuse reporting law after Nassar abuse scandal

Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, center, is hugged after giving her victim impact statement during the seventh day of Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Lansing, Mich. At right is Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis. Nassar has admitted sexually assaulting athletes when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which is the sport's national governing organization and trains Olympians. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

There's a push from state lawmakers to strengthen laws when it comes to sexual assault crimes.

NBC25/ FOX66 News caught up with those lawmakers to find out how this new legislation would make it easier for victims to come forward in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

One of the driving forces behind this legislation is Senator Margaret O'Brien, who has known survivor Rachael Denhollander since she was a young girl.

Following the Nassar scandal, O'Brien said she and Senator Ken Horn met with the survivor.

"Rachael Denhollander unmasked a monster," Senator Horn said. "Literally."

Senator O'Brien said that Rachael laid out all the problems and how the system has failed her and her fellow survivors, prompting them to take action.

O'Brien said, like the Nassar case, 90 percent of the time a child is victimized by someone they trust and often don't even realize it's happening.

"And so we want those victims of childhood sexual abuse to have a much longer time period to come forward," she added.

With the new legislation they're pushing for, they may get more time.

"Today they have until their 19th birthday to report," she said. "This legislation would allow them to file charges up until their 48th birthday."

O'Brien said on average, a boy doesn't say anything about sexual abuse until they are 38 and for a young girl, the average age is 41.

This is something victims like Suzanne Greenberg can relate to.

"For me, I was in my late 30s, mid-to-late 30s, when I finally figured out what was happening to me," Greenberg said. "I saw it was affecting not only my marriage, but my relationship with my children."

This new legislation would also increase penalties for those who don't report child abuse, according to law.

It would also expand who is a mandated reporter, meaning who is required to report any knowledge of a child saying they've been abused.

"We think that a mandated reporter should be expanded to who have regular interactions with our kids, like athletic trainers, coaches, bus drivers," O'Brien added.

She said Tuesday they will do some amendments on the Senate floor and are hoping to vote by Wednesday.

Following that, it will go to the House.

She said her personal goal is to get this package of bills to the governor by June.

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