Senator O’Brien And Colleagues Meet With Rachael Denhollander, Sterling Riethman To Discuss Sexual Assault Prevention

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, led a roundtable discussion with several of her legislative colleagues Tuesday afternoon to hear the stories of Rachael Denhollander and Sterling Riethman.

The senators joined Denhollander and Riethman to discuss the importance of preventing sexual assault and additional actions that can be taken here in Michigan.

“I admire the courage of the women who stepped forward to share their horrific experiences,” Senator O’Brien said. “It is important that our laws protect those who are most vulnerable, including our children.”

Senator Tonya Schuitmaker agreed.

“These young women were victimized by someone they trusted,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This meeting was yet another eye-opening experience for many of us sitting at the table. While we’ve gone to great lengths to provide protections for victims of sexual assault in recent years, there is still more that needs to be done, especially on college campuses.”

Denhollander, a native of Kalamazoo, was the first victim of Dr. Larry Nassar, former physician for the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, to speak publicly about her experiences. Nassar pleaded guilty in November to sexually assaulting her and six other women. There are currently 125 women pursuing legal action against Nassar for sexual abuse.

Rachael Denhollander was encouraged by the discussion, stating, “I am grateful to see the leadership of Senator O’Brien and key Republican senators as they seek to stand against sexual abusers and those who enable them. I look forward to working with them on key legislative reform.”

Sterling Riethman also commented on the productive nature of the meeting. “We are incredibly grateful for the support shown today,” Riethman said. “The dialogue held this afternoon is a promising beginning to creating a safe environment for victims seeking justice and healing. As a resident of Senator O’Brien’s district, I’m encouraged to see that our senators are committed to creating the positive change needed. Changing the way our justice system handles sexual assault is essential, not just for those of us victimized by Larry Nassar, but for generations to come.”

“We stand with the women who were victimized,” said Senator O’Brien. “Predators like Larry Nassar must be stopped. I applaud Rachael and Sterling for helping us improve our laws to prevent this from happening again.”

###

 

Photo caption (left): State Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, led a roundtable discussion with several of her legislative colleagues Tuesday afternoon to hear the stories of Rachael Denhollander and Sterling Riethman. The senators joined Denhollander and Riethman to discuss the importance of preventing sexual assault and additional actions that can be taken here in Michigan.

Photo caption (right): Michigan state senators attend a roundtable discussion Tuesday afternoon led by Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, to hear the stories of Rachael Denhollander and Sterling Riethman. The senators joined Denhollander and Riethman to discuss the importance of preventing sexual assault and additional actions that can be taken here in Michigan.