House approves Theis bills to protect underage victims of sex crime on school property

Categories: News,Theis News

Livingston County case prompts three-bill package

The state House today overwhelmingly approved Rep. Lana Theis’ legislation to protect underage victims of sex crimes on school property when they are assaulted by a fellow student.

The three-bill package was prompted by a recent Livingston County case where a 16-year-old was convicted of criminal sexual conduct charges against multiple victims as young as 12. Two of the underage victims and their families joined Theis for testimony before the House Law and Justice Committee on Feb. 20.

“In our state, a child who has been sexually assaulted by a classmate is often left with the choice of going back to school with their rapist or having to change schools themselves,” said Theis, of Brighton. “Requiring the victims to publicly beg for protection and carry this burden, which has recently taken place in Livingstone County, is simply unacceptable. That must change.”

The three-bill package requires schools to permanently expel students who are convicted of criminal sexual conduct against another pupil enrolled in the same school district; prohibit an expelled student from attending another public school in Michigan unless they go through a reinstatement process; and, if a personal protection order is ordered for the victim of sexual assaults, the offender would be prohibited from entering the victim’s school.

Currently, Michigan schools are only required to expel a student who commits a sex crime on school grounds.

“This is not just a loophole that allows this to happen, it is a gaping hole in our law that would allow such an injustice,” Theis said. “These bills work to protect victims by expanding court orders, mandatory expulsion laws and protection orders for victims.”

House Bills 5530, 5531 and 5532 advance to the Senate for its consideration.