Details of former President Chatfield’s alleged sexual abuse of his sister-in-law

  • Michigan House
  • Former Michigan House President Lee Chatfield, R-Levering.

The person former House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) is accused of sexually assaulting for over a decade, since she was a child, is her sister-in-law.

Michigan State Police are investigating the complaint, which was first filed with the Lansing Police Department on December 24, 2021.

Rebekah Chatfield, now 26, said the assaults started when she was a student at Northern Michigan Christian Academy in Burt Lake, where Lee Chatfield was working at the time, according to a report from Bridge Michigan. She is married to Lee Chatfield’s brother Aaron Chatfield, who supported her in the allegations.

Jamie White, Rebekah Chatfield’s attorney, told the Advance On Friday, the assaults began when she was 14 or 15 and continued until around July 2021.

“These are allegations that [Lee Chatfield] used his position of power and influence while in church and school and had ongoing sex with this young teenage girl that lasted beyond her teenage years and beyond [Chatfield’s] brother married her, ”said White, an Okemos-based attorney who has represented dozens of women in the civil sexual assault lawsuits against Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor and a US Gymnastics physician. Michigan State University who is now serving a sentence of 40 to 175 years. year in prison after more than 150 girls and women said he sexually assaulted them.

White said his client “has the support of several family members, including people related to Mr Chatfield, who have decided they can’t look away with this.”

A woman who answered the phone at Northern Michigan Christian Academy on Monday said: “The school just means all criminal allegations are false.” She did not identify herself and declined to comment further on the allegations.

Lee Chatfield’s attorney, Mary Chartier of Okemos, released a statement on Friday denying the allegations.

“Sir. Chatfield is innocent of the false rape allegations made against him,” Chartier said, adding that Lee Chatfield’s sexual relationship with Rebekah Chatfield was a consensual “affair”.

Lee Chatfield was a teacher, coach and athletic director at the school before taking office in 2014. He is married with five children. The age of consent in Michigan is 16, but it rises to 18 when the abuser is a school educator.

Lee Chatfield’s father, Reverend Stanley “Rusty” Chatfield III, who is pastor of Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church and as superintendent and history professor at the academy attached to the church, also denied the allegations. Monday and did not provide any further information. comment to Advance.

Chatfield accused of abuse of power in Lansing, church

Rebekah Chatfield told Bridge Michigan that when she first met Lee Chatfield, she was going through “a traumatic and vulnerable time in her life.”

Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian, an attorney with the Boz Law firm based in Deland, Fla., Which represents victims of sexual abuse in evangelical settings, told Advance that church leaders who sexually abuse young church members prey on vulnerable victims.

“So many of these offenders, especially in youth groups and teachers, know how to harness this power in such a way as to gain the trust of the victim,” Tchividjian said. “The point of this relationship on the offender’s side is not to be a mentor and a positive helper for this young person, but to grow them to the point where they can then begin to engage in sexual acts. … There is no such thing as a teacher having an affair with his students. It is abusive conduct. It is criminal conduct.

So many of these offenders, especially in youth groups and teachers, know how to harness this power in a way that earns the trust of the victim.

– Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian, lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse in evangelical circles

Current House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) has ordered all House members and staff to keep all documents that may be relevant to the ongoing investigation, including emails, memos , calendars and voicemail messages.

The Capitol was the site of an alleged sexual assault, according to Rebekah Chatfield. Lee Chatfield pressured Rebekah Chatfield to have sex in her Capitol Hill office while her husband went out to buy pizza, according to a report from Bridge Michigan.

Aaron Chatfield told Bridge he spent some time working as Lee Chatfield’s unofficial chauffeur and often drove him to strip clubs or to meet women, including a former staff member . Aaron Chatfield has said Lee Chatfield will make frequent trips and request trips across the state to Detroit and Birmingham.

Longtime GOP member and co-founder of Grand River Strategies Stu Sandler confirmed to Bridge that Aaron Chatfield had been assigned to the House Republican campaign and worked for him in 2019 and 2020. Sandler did not call back the Advance Monday.

White has said he expects the case against Chatfield to develop significantly.

“There are murmurs that there may be federal implications based on interstate travel,” White said.

“I think you will hear other allegations involving financial irregularities when he was a speaker,” White continued. “We’re going to hear a truly extraordinary level of behavior while he was Speaker of the House in regards to his movement in the community.”

In June 2019, a Advance The reporter met Lee Chatfield and his chief of staff, Rob Minard, over a weekend in Washington, DC According to his office, the Republican was visiting DC for “several meetings in town,” including with the White House, although that spokesperson Gideon D’Assandro declined to specify the nature of these meetings.

At 30, Lee Chatfield became Michigan’s youngest Speaker of the House when he was elected head of the Lower House in 2018. He held that position until it was limited in 2020.

Earlier that year, Lee Chatfield brought a loaded, unregistered gun to a Pellston airport. He was penalized a total of $ 2,210, but a local prosecutor refused to indict him criminally.

In 2019, Lee Chatfield ordered State Representative Kara Hope (D-Holt) to remove a sign on her office door stating it was an ‘unarmed’ space on the day of transport open, calling the sign “discriminatory” against the Michiganders. constitutional rights.

Hope told the Advance Monday that the 2019 incident was just a small example of the former president and the GOP-led state legislature as a whole having a “male culture of authority.”

Hope says Lee Chatfield was known as “some sort of party girl,” but she was not aware of any details or allegations beyond that.

“You can kind of tell they’re used to being the boss and women not questioning them,” Hope said. “… There is an air of immaturity, and it’s definitely tinged with sexism. More than tinged – tinged with sexism.

State Representative Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Twp.) Said Lansing was embroiled in a sexist culture and was infiltrating the Capitol workplace – something that was echoed by many of her colleagues, like the Advance has already reported. Brixie said she had noticed it in the way her fellow Republicans looked at “young Democratic female representatives when they give speeches.”

“You recognize things as you mature. You recognize things that you have experienced in the past. It’s sort of easier to see this happen to someone else than it is sometimes to see it happen to you when you experience it firsthand, ”Brixie said. “And that was something I really didn’t like about our sessions upstairs at the house. It is this culture that seems acceptable.

Advance journalist Anna Gustafson contributed to this story.

Originally posted Jan 10, 2022 on Michigan Advance. It is shared here with permission.

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