While he has not been a member of the legislature for a year now, former Speaker Lee Chatfield’s influence is still all over the House chamber. As the allegations of sexual assault made against Chatfield surfaced, people want reaction from lawmakers.
Wednesday was the first legislative session day of 2022 and also the first chance for people to get access to lawmakers since the sexual assault allegations made against Chatfield became public. While there were a lot of people talking about the allegations in Lansing, very few were going on camera to talk about them.
“I’m not going to talk about any of the investigation,” said Rep. John Damoose, “because right now the state police are handling it all.
Rep. Damoose never served with Chatfield but he did take his place as the voice for the 107th District. He is now hearing the allegations of sexual assault against Chatfield just as everyone else is.
“As the details are coming out, I think everybody in this room is a little sick,” said Damoose.
Current Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth did not speak, a spokesperson saying the House is cooperating with the investigation but other members are more adamant.
“From my standpoint, in my district, it’s very embarrassing,” said Rep. Bob Bezotte, a former county sheriff, “It’s unfortunate but again let’s let the State Police do their job and see what happens in the end.”
On the Democrat’s side, Minority Leader Donna Lasinski did not speak either. She simply released a statement saying, “These charges are extremely serious. Their investigation must proceed quickly and without impediment.”
“I think this is a case of potentially of one individual stepped out,” said Damoose, “But it’s not an indictment on the whole process or of our whole team. These are good people on both sides of the aisle.”
While not many people in Lansing weren’t speaking, one person that was pretty open to speak about the allegations and, who is also very close to the former speaker, is his father, Rusty Chatfield. The lead pastor at the Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church, during a sermon on Sunday he used his time at the pulpit to vaguely point towards the allegations made against his son.
“Parts of things are true but parts are not true,” said Chatfield, “The enemy is always lying, exaggerating, distorting some truth and some no truth.”
He never directly named his son or the allegations but Sunday, Chatfield seemed to circle around the scandal in his sermon.
“You can’t believe everything you read in a newspaper, on the internet or whatever and you should know what I’m talking about,” said Chatfield, “You cannot believe that. Truth will come forward, truth will come forward, eventually truth will come forward.”
Pushing against narratives and spin, the investigation may push against his church and school. The very one Lee Chatfield met his accuser, he as a teacher and she as a student.
“We’ve done nothing wrong, nothing. Our church has done nothing,” said Chatfield, “Nothing. We’ve done nothing wrong and we can’t let false accusations stop us from doing the work of God.”