House committee hears from victims, families in Brighton sexual assault case

State Rep. Lana Theis and Brighton High School student Gianna Diva listen as Brigton resident Ashley Diva speaks before the Law and Justice Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
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Proposed legislation closing a loophole allowing perpetrators of sexual assault to return to the school district where the victim attends could be voted on as early as next week. The legislation, introduced by State Rep. Lana Theis of Brighton, comes in response to recent sexual assault cases involving Brighton students.

Theis testified Tuesday, Feb. 20, before the House Law and Justice Committee in support of her legislative package, which was introduced earlier this month.

The legislation is in response to the controversial Livingston County case involving a 16-year-old offender convicted of criminal sexual conduct against multiple victims, one of whom was 12. Victims, their parents and community members were outraged that after the 16-year-old Brighton Township perpetrator pleaded guilty to six felonies — including first-degree criminal sexual conduct with multiple victims — he was sentenced to 45 days in a youth center, and after serving his sentence, under current law, he could have returned to the same school district as his victims.

“Everything from the conviction, punishment and possibility of the offender returning to the same high school attended by the victims show we have to treat this crime with the severity it deserves,” Theis said in a statement .

Under current law, a school must expel a student who commits criminal sexual conduct in a school building or on school grounds. The proposed legislation would require schools to expel students who are convicted of criminal sexual conduct against another pupil enrolled in the same school district; and prohibit an offender from enrolling in a school building where their victim attends school. The proposed legislation also requires that if a personal protection order is ordered for the victim of sexual assaults, the offender, regardless of age, would be prohibited from entering the victim’s school.

“Criminal sexual conduct needs to be dealt with more seriously, especially when it involves minors, because the punishment handed down in Livingston County did nothing – to rehabilitate the offender, get justice for the victims or protect the community,” said Theis, a member of the House Law and Justice Committee. “We need to do better in Michigan.”


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