State Watch

Michigan expands mandatory reporters after Nassar abuse

Legislation signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) this week will expand mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect in the state following the 2017 conviction of former U.S. gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who has been accused of abuse by over 100 girls and women.

The new law will require physical and occupational therapists and athletic trainers to report suspected child abuse or neglect, as many other professionals, including doctors, therapists and school administrators, are already mandated to do, The Associated Press reported.

Nassar is serving a virtual life sentence for convictions for sexual abuse and possession of child pornography, according to the AP.

Several of Nassar’s accusers testified in victim impact statements in 2018 that they had reported incidents of sexual abuse to trainers and coaches who failed to report the claims.

Previously, the legislation received criticism for failing to include coaches as mandatory reporters, due to the difficulty of distinguishing among those working in full-time, part-time and volunteer positions, according to the AP.

“These folks are often serving as parental figures,” Sarah Prout Rennie, the executive director of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, said of coaches, according to the wire service. “These people are really the only people that they have access to come forward. They really need to be responsible to reporting sexual assaults.”

Rennie said that the organization supports adding to the list of mandatory reporters, but added that it felt the move was incomplete without coaches being included, according to the AP.

This comes after former Michigan State University gymnastics coach Kathie Klages’s 2020 conviction for lying to police about Nassar’s history of abuse was later overturned by the Michigan state court of appeals in December.

Tags Gretchen Whitmer Larry Nassar Michigan

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