LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Jim Runestad on Tuesday announced legislation he has introduced to repeal an antiquated 1930s seduction clause from Michigan law so that prosecutors may no longer use it to plea down criminals who victimize women.
“Far too often, soft-on-crime prosecutors are using this outdated statute to plea bargain on behalf of violent sexual predators who deserve to be held accountable to the full extent of modern laws,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “By repealing this law, we can remove this old-fashioned option for crime-friendly prosecutors, provide for meaningful justice under more current statutes, and better protect women.”
Recent legislative actions and news reports have brought some of Michigan’s old-fashioned laws to light. Runestad’s Senate Bills 390 and 391 would strike what is known as Michigan’s arcane 1931 seduction and debauchery clause from state law books, which allows criminal defendants to avoid additional jail time and being placed on the state’s sex offender registry.
Former Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon was criticized for her office’s use of the antiquated law in a plea deal for three former Michigan State University football players accused of sexual assault. She told The Detroit News the seduction clause is used “consistently, but infrequently” in Michigan plea deals as “a tool that we have as prosecutors.”
More recently, MLive reported that a Western Michigan University hockey captain pleaded guilty to seduction in a deal with the Kalamazoo County prosecutor’s office.
“In a previous term, I introduced Senate Bill 204 of 2019 to prevent minors who commit violent sexual assault from plea bargaining down under Holmes Youth Training Act — that bill never even received a committee hearing,” Runestad said. “Now, I’m moving forward to simply strike from the books this archaic law that is being taken advantage of on behalf of violent sexual criminals who are over the age of 18. It is unconscionable that prosecutors would defer to these antiquated punishments, essentially putting these criminals back on the streets as soon as possible with a legal slap on the wrist.”
“I am hopeful that this new Democratic majority in the Legislature will get behind me in this vital effort to hold rapists accountable and better protect women from these monsters in the future,” Runestad said.