Welcome back, and thanks for joining us for this difficult discussion about a topic that has shaken Michigan to the core. Many things are changing in the wake of the revelations about Larry Nassar, and after the historic trial where more than 100 victims shared victim impact statements. Laws are being reviewed and criticised. New legislation is being crafted. People in positions of power are being questioned, and entire institutions are coming under fire. It’s an unprecedented time in Michigan’s legal history.
Which laws are under fire in Michigan?
So we’d like to take a look at the laws in Michigan that are now being scrutinized, and deemed insufficient. As we mentioned before, State Representative Brandt Iden has introduced House Bill 5538, which will add coaches, assistant coaches, and athletic trainers at schools and colleges to Michigan’s list of mandated reporters. That, however, isn’t the only issue.
Another aspect of Michigan’s law that’s being called insufficient is the penalty for mandated reporters who fail to report suspected abuse. Although there are states where a mandated reporter failing to make a report is a felony, in Michigan this charge is a misdemeanor. And a 93 day misdemeanor at that! Although, when you ask around, many people will tell you that we may as well not bother charging anyone for this in Michigan. After all, why start now? This charge hardly ever gets filed anyway.
There have only been 17 cases in 30 years?
According to a report by WXYZ Detroit, there’ve only been 17 cases where mandated reporters in Michigan knew about specific instances of child abuse and neglect, and failed to report it to authorities. No, wait! Only 17 cases? That can’t be right? Actually, the truth is that the charge of failing to report has only been filed 17 times in Michigan, but the instance where a mandated reporter has failed to report abuse has happened far more often than that!
So what happens when someone is told about child abuse, or sees something that leads them to believe that a child may be the victim of abuse, and they do nothing? Well, that about sums it up – the answer is nothing. In most cases, nothing happens. The person doesn’t make a report, the child is later discovered to have been the victim of abuse, the person in question is discovered to have known, and…. Nothing happens.
Is Michigan ‘soft’ on mandated reporters who fail to report abuse?
Many are now saying yes. And in the wake of the Nassar trial, it stands to reason that the way this is handled in future will change. People who are discovered to have held their tongues when they suspected abuse might be up against a very different prosecutor who, in the name of keeping the public happy, is much quicker to file charges against mandated reporters who fail to perform their duties in the name of child safety.
This is something to keep in mind for the future. The climate is changing in Michigan. Because the culture of silence is being blamed for Nassar being allowed to harm so many victims for so long, it’s unlikely that silence will be tolerated for much longer. People will be expected to speak out. And those who don’t will face the wrath of the public, and a newly galvanized prosecutor’s office!
Do you need help from a child abuse defense attorney in Michigan?
If you or a loved one have been accused of child abuse or neglect, or failing to report child abuse in Michigan, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our skilled child abuse and neglect defense attorneys can help you deal with these challenging allegations, and work to restore your good name.