The following post is written by one of our Criminal Justice interns, Jared, who has been interning with us since May. Jared attends The University Of Michigan in Ann Arbor and is interested in pursuing a career in law.
Larry Nassar, a former USA gymnastics physician and Michigan State employee, molested an unprecedented amount of children that were under his “care”. Practicing for nearly 40 years, Nassar was able to use the guise of medical treatment to get his victims alone, often inviting them to his house for one-on-one sessions. His position and credibility allowed him to perform unlawful “treatments” on children without raising much suspicion. Over the years, complaints were filed against Nassar for suspected sexual assault, but until recently, not much action was taken. In 2018, he was indicted on multiple sexual abuse and child pornography charges, ultimately being sentenced to multiple life terms in prison. In the wake of Nassar’s reign of terror, we are left wondering how this could happen, and what to do when you suspect a child is being abused. Rather than simply staying quiet, it’s important to know the mandated reporting laws in Michigan. By definition, these laws require public service workers such as physicians and teachers, to report suspected abuse to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). However, this doesn’t mean you have to be a public service worker to make a report. Here at the Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer County, we believe that the power of one person can make a difference, and knowing these laws can give you the tools to combat abuse. If you suspect possible abuse or neglect, here is a list of steps to follow.
Make a report to Centralized Intake at the Department of Health and Human Services by calling 855-444-3911, or going online to https://newmibridges.michigan.gov. Make sure you directly contact DHHS rather than simply telling a supervisor.
When you call, you will be asked to provide as much detail as possible about the following:
The child's primary caretaker, including name and address.
Names and birth dates for all members of the household.
Name and birth date of the alleged perpetrator(s).
Whether the alleged perpetrator lives with the child.
Address where the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.
Narrative of the mandated reporter’s concerns suspecting the child is being abused or neglected.
After making a report over the phone, you are required to file a written report within 72 hours. This written form focuses on the child’s information, and includes information such as the name of the child and a description of the suspected abuse or neglect. The Michigan DHHS provides the “Report of Actual or Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect” (DHS-3200) form found on their website. Once completed, there are instructions on the form on how to fax or email it.
After calling and filing a written report, it is important to know that the identity of the reporting person remains confidential, in accordance with the Child Protection Law in Michigan. Your identity will only be disclosed with your permission, in a court of law, or to those directly involved in the case.
It is also important to know that mandated reporters who do not report suspected child abuse or neglect are subject to civil and criminal liability. In cases of criminal action, failure to report will result in a misdemeanor and up to 93 days in jail. The timing of these reports is critical and it is essential that they be made. Taking the steps to recognize possible cases of abuse is a responsibility that we all must assume, and a role that must not be taken lightly. One report is all it could take to stop serial abusers like Larry Nassar and can have a resounding impact on the life of a child.