A series of bills by a local legislator to protect underage crime victims has gained Senate Judiciary Committee approval.

State Representative Lana Theis of Brighton drafted the 3 bill package after learning of a recent Livingston County case where a 16-year-old who was convicted of criminal sexual conduct charges against multiple victims sought to return to the school his victims attended. Currently schools are only required to expel if the sex crime is committed on school grounds. Theis called this a “gaping hole in our law” and an injustice.

The new package will require schools to permanently expel students convicted of the charge against another student in the same district. It will also prohibit the expelled student from attending another public school in Michigan unless they go through a reinstatement process. Finally, if a personal protection order is granted to the victim, the offender would be prohibited from entering the victim’s school.

On Tuesday, two local victims of sex crimes testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the legislation. They told the committee about having to face the possibility of being in the same school, classroom, and bus route with the offender. Theis said this is “something that should not even have to be discussed” and that “we must better protect victims.” House Bills 5530, 5531, and 5532 will now move on to the Senate for consideration. (MK)