A local lawmaker’s legislation designed to protect underage victims of sex crimes has been signed by Michigan’s governor.

State Representative Lana Theis on Friday 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 Governor Rick Snyder. The new law requires permanent expulsion of any student convicted of criminal sexual conduct against another pupil enrolled in the same school district.

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, after becoming victims themselves. Theis introduced the legislation in response to a case in which a 16-year-old offender was charged with 31 felonies against multiple victims, including Duva and Zaplitny. The Brighton Township teen ultimately pleaded guilty to six of them, including 1st degree criminal sexual conduct.

While WHMI does not normally identify victims of sexual assault, we are in this instance because they have willingly identified themselves. 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. (DK)