(WXYZ) — Thursday the news broke about sexual assault allegations made against Lee Chatfield the former Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives.
It was made by Chatfield’s now sister-in-law who claims he sexually assaulted her from age 15 to last summer. She’s now 27. Lee Chatfield is 33.
Bill Seikaly is an attorney who has represented sexual assault victims for decades.
He tells 7 Action News, “Unfortunately, this is fairly typical of the kind of sexual abuse cases that we see where there's a person in a position of power and authority.”
Seikaly represented a victim of former Detroit City Council President and TV personality Charles Pugh who was released from prison last month after doing 5 years in a sexual assault plea deal.
Chatfield is the youngest person to serve as Speaker of the House.
“Looking at his trajectory, everybody was always admiring this person. He was going through the political process and nothing that he did make him look bad,” Seikaly says.
The allegations are the assaults took place inside a church and school where Chatfield was a teacher and his father was the Pastor.
“These people are immersed in the culture of the church, and they're taught, you always respect what these people do. The other part of that, unfortunately, is that the perpetrator usually figures out who they can victimize using that same criteria,” Seikaly says.
The attorney representing the alleged victim is Jamie White in Lansing. He’s also represented sexual assault victims against Dr. Larry Nassar at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics and against Dr. Robert Anderson at the University of Michigan.
The criminal complaint is being investigated by Michigan State Police.
Attorney Seikaly says they are able to substantiate the claims, “They have a lot of techniques in the days and era of social media and cell phones, which you know, this for these two people have been around for a long time.”
Late this afternoon we received a statement from an attorney representing Lee Chatfield.
It says in part:
Mr. Chatfield is innocent of the false rape claims made against him. He had affairs while he was married, including a sexual relationship with the woman who is now claiming she was raped. Their affair lasted for years, but they were both consenting adults. Mr. Chatfield deeply regrets the decisions he has made.
The statement also says Chatfield is working through this with his family and will fight the criminal allegations.
This investigation may take weeks or months.