LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tom Barrett on Tuesday announced his plan to introduce legislation to assist survivors of sexual abuse committed by University of Michigan Dr. Robert Anderson as they continue to seek justice through the state’s court system.
“This coming February will mark two years since the first sexual abuse survivors of the University of Michigan’s late athletic doctor came forward,” said Barrett, R-Charlotte. “We have since learned the full scope of Dr. Anderson’s abuse from the late 1960s to the early 2000s and the failings of university employees who could have stopped these horrific acts from continuing to take place. We now know it is believed he sexually assaulted more than 1,000 students and community members while employed by U of M and that his victims were largely vulnerable men of color who attended the university as scholarship athletes. The Legislature must afford these survivors the same opportunity to seek justice against the university as we did in 2018 for those who were victims of Michigan State University’s Larry Nassar. It is simply the right thing to do.”
Barrett said his legislation will seek to extend the protections afforded to survivors of sexual abuse enabled by the 2018 Protecting Michigan’s Children bill package. He wants to create a 30-day window for Anderson’s survivors to file suit against the University of Michigan; remove procedural hurdles that survivors face when the abuse was enabled by an arm of the state, such and the university; and prohibit the university from hiding behind governmental immunity.
“I look forward to gathering bipartisan support for this important and timely legislation,” Barrett said. “Sexual abuse is a scourge on our society; as lawmakers, we have a moral duty to update our laws to protect survivors and provide them with legal recourse against institutions that enable abusers, even when those institutions are agents of the government. The university has not denied these tragic events happened, therefore, we are obliged to provide a path to forward to justice for the victims.”
The Senate will convene for its first session of 2022 at 12 p.m. on Jan. 12.