Former Michigan House speaker Lee Chatfield denies sister-in-law’s sexual assault allegation

LANSING, Michigan – A former Michigan law leader on Friday denied allegations he raped his future sister-in-law from the age of 14 or 15, saying they had had sex for years but that both were consenting adults.

Lee Chatfield, a Republican who led the House in 2019 and 2020, has had multiple extramarital affairs, including with his accuser, his lawyer Mary Chartier said in a statement. He “deeply regrets” his decisions which have caused “great pain” to his wife and family, and they are working on it, she said.

“But he never assaulted this woman in any way during their multi-year adult relationship,” Chartier said. “He intends to vigorously fight against these false claims.

The woman, 26, is one of Chatfield’s sisters-in-law, her lawyer Jamie White has said. She filed a complaint at the end of December with the Lansing Police Department. Northern Michigan State Police are investigating as the charges cover out of town jurisdictions.

White said on Thursday the alleged assaults began when his client was a 14 or 15-year-old girl attending Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church and Northern Michigan Christian Academy near Burt Lake, about 100 kilometers northeast of Traverse City . Chatfield, 33, was a teacher and athletic director at the school at the time before winning the Legislative Assembly election in 2014. He left after 2020 due to House term limits.

The legal age of state consent is 16.

Michigan defines first-degree criminal sexual conduct – the most serious offense – to include a specific prohibition against a teacher assaulting a student under the age of 16.

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