Theis, Brighton HS teens who inspired legislation, attend signing ceremony with governor

Standing, from left, are Meghan Reckling, senior advisor to Rep. Theis; Rep. Theis; Mya Zaplitny; Mya’s mother, Jacqueline Zaplitny; Gianna Duva; Gianna’s mother, Ashley Howe; and state Rep. Sylvia Santana, who sponsored the bill requiring that if a personal protection order is ordered for the victim of sexual assaults, the offender would be prohibited from entering the victim’s school.
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Rep. Lana Theis welcomed two Livingston County teenagers who inspired her to introduce legislation improving protections for underage victims of sex crimes to Lansing for a bill-signing ceremony with Gov. Rick Snyder on Sept. 6, 2018.

The new law requires permanent expulsion of any student convicted of criminal sexual conduct against another pupil enrolled in the same school district.

The legislation came in response to the recent Livingston County case in which a 16-year-old was convicted of criminal sexual charges against multiple victims as young as 12. The underage perpetrator sought to return to school upon release, despite several victims being fellow students.

In April 2018, when the legislation was passed unanimously in the Michigan Senate, Theis said: “A child who has been sexually assaulted by a classmate in Michigan is often left with the choice of going back to school with their rapist or having to change schools themselves. 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 and I am happy we are changing this.”

Brighton High School students Gianna Duva and Mya Zaplitny worked with Theis to develop a solution and testified in support of the measure throughout the legislative process.

Prior to the new legislation, Michigan school were only required to expel a student who commits a sex crime on school grounds.

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