Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield has been accused by his sister-in-law of allegedly sexually assaulting her starting when she was a teenager and was attending his church and its affiliated Christian school.
She filed her complaint with the Lansing Police Department, according to The Lansing City Pulse. A spokesperson for the city told the paper that the city had transferred the case to the Michigan State Police to investigate.
Chatfield’s sister-in-law, now 27, claims that the former politician began assaulting her when she was 15 and attended Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church and the Northern Michigan Christian Academy School, her attorney Jamie White said. The alleged assaults continued until 2021.
Prior to representing Chatfield’s sister-in-law, White represented many women in the Larry Nassar sexual assault civil lawsuits, according to The Detroit News. White is also representing men suing the University of Michigan over alleged sexual abuse of Robert Anderson as well as former Boy Scouts suing Boy Scouts of America over alleged sexual abuse.
“We are very confident that between Michigan State Police and our independent investigation he’s going to be held accountable,” White said, according to the paper. “This young woman is extremely terrified of what’s coming forward for her as far as how the ex-speaker is going to respond. We're wrapping our arms around her to make sure she has tools to deal with this.”
Chatfield's father, Rusty Chatfield, serves as pastor of the church and as the administrator for the school. Before Chatfield joined the state House in 2014, he taught at the school and served as the athletic director and men’s soccer coach.
In 2014, Chatfield ran a heavily anti-LGBTQ+ campaign, targeting Republican Frank Foster for supporting amending Michigan’s civil rights act to include LGBTQ+ people. Chatfield continued to oppose protections for LGBTQ+ people while in office, according to the City Pulse.
Five years later, Chatfield became Michigan’s youngest House speaker. He held the post until term limits forced him out in 2020.
After leaving office, the 33-year-old served as the CEO of the economic development group Southwest Michigan First. He resigned last February due to controversy over his anti-LGBTQ+ politics.