Column: The trend of prosecuting sexual predators for their crimes needs to continue

The recent action being taken against prominent societal figures after years of abuse is important and needs to continue in order to set the new norm.

Madi Baughman is a freshman journalism and political science major at MU. She is an opinions columnist who writes about political and civil rights issues for The Maneater.

In the past year or so, we’ve seen a lot of talk about sexual predators being held accountable for their crimes and action being taken against said predators. Fortunately, this movement doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

On Feb. 6, a bill passed in the House of Representatives that would require members of Congress to pay out of their own pockets for sexual harassment settlements and to help victims navigate the complaint process. This bill is aimed at overhauling the secretive, complicated system that has been in place for decades in hopes of changing the workplace in Capitol Hill for the better.

These changes to our government can at least partially be attributed to cultural factors that have become prominent in society. The #MeToo movement, which gained popularity in 2017, has had a significant impact on popular culture and led to the surge of holding prominent figures in society accountable for their actions. It has most noticeably affected the entertainment industry, where people such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey have finally faced the consequences of their actions over the course of several years.

Many other important cases have come up as well. For example, Larry Nassar, one of the most recent sexual predators to be prosecuted, received a 40-125 year sentence from a Michigan judge as a result of his third hearing. This will run concurrently with his 40-175 year sentence from a separate case, which he will serve after a 60-year federal prison sentence for child pornography. This means he is guaranteed to spend at least 100 years in prison — and this is exactly what we need to see more of from our justice system.

This bill to overhaul the current congressional system isn’t going to fix everything, but it’s a place to start, and it’s a model to build off of. We need to keep up this trend of holding people accountable for their actions so that it becomes the new norm. If Congress can put aside party affiliation and come together to keep making legislation like this, it will be the beginning of a better, safer America.

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