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New bills aim to protect patients from sexual abuse following Larry Nassar scandal

Bills on sexual assault in wake of Larry Nassar scandal move through Michigan Legislature
Bills on sexual assault in wake of Larry Nassar scandal move through Michigan Legislature 02:21

LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - State lawmakers are looking to make key changes to Michigan's laws on sexual assault. 

The bills are in response to the scandal involving former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar, the former doctor convicted of sexually assaulting his patients.

"In the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, a lot more scandals came to light," said Johanna Kononen of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.

It's been seven years since Nassar's arrest. Now, state lawmakers are again considering a package of bills to strengthen the state laws on sexual assault.

One of the bills would ban medical professionals from disguising a medical treatment for reason for sexual penetration. Any violators would be charged with a felony with a maximum sentence of 20 to 25 years in prison.

"This violation of your dignity, especially within the confines of that trusted doctor-to-patient relationship is especially damaging to folks. It can lead to lasting damage to survivors and patients," said Kononen.

Kononen is in support of the bill package. She called it an important step to protect patients, and survivors in wake of the Nassar scandal. 

"It's really important, I think for survivors to see that we believe them," she said.

The bills would also require the Department of Education to develop materials, educating middle and high school students on sexual assault and harassment. It would require training for educators as well. 

The package of bills was recently passed by a state Senate committee.

State Rep. Jim Runestad was one of the unanimous votes.

"This pretty well locks down what he (Larry Nassar) was doing and making sure it will not happen again," he said.

Kononen said she and others have tried three different times to get similar legislation passed. For the sake of survivors, she's hopeful the fourth time is the charm.

"Survivors in Michigan deserve that," she said.

The package of bills was voted on by a state senate committee. They will now go to vote by the full Senate before being considered by the House.

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