Schuitmaker urges House to approve additional measures to prevent sexual assault

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker on Thursday said she would like to see the state House approve legislation that would eliminate the state’s statute of limitations law regarding criminal sexual conduct.

Schuitmaker, who co-sponsored Senate Bill 52, says this is common sense legislation that should have been easily approved in both chambers and sent to Gov. Rick Snyder by now.

“The Michigan Legislature has championed many reforms aimed at providing sexual assault victims with justice,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Unfortunately, the trauma from this violence can leave many victims suffering for years before they are able to speak out against their abuse and share what happened to them.”

SB 52 would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to eliminate the statute of limitations for a second-degree criminal sexual conduct in which the victim was under 16 years of age. The bill also would increase the statute of limitations for third-degree criminal sexual conduct to 20 years after the offense was committed or the victim’s 31st birthday, whichever was later.

Currently, complaints must be filed within 10 years after the offense is committed or by the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later.

“With the massive increase in sexual assault claims we are seeing, we must change our laws to ensure that victims have a course of remedy,” Schuitmaker said. “This is just another tool we can give prosecutors in bringing criminals to justice and providing victims with the closure they deserve.

Schuitmaker points to the case of the convicted Dr. Larry Nassar as the primary reasoning for her support for this legislation. She said the legislation came up in a recent meeting with Rachael Denhollander and Sterling Riethman, both victims of Nassar, and they were very supportive of the measure.

“These girls were very young when this happened to them,” Schuitmaker said. “Victims in general, especially young girls, are often cautious about coming forward in a timely manner because of what it may mean for them. These bills would create a longer time frame for perpetrators to be brought to justice.”

SB 52 was unanimously approved by the Senate in October and is currently before the House Committee on Law and Justice.