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No charges for school staff members facing sexual abuse allegations

Rose White/WZZM-TV • Mar 16, 2018 at 8:07 PM

Two Fremont teachers from the mid-1990s will not face criminal charges regarding recent allegations of sexual abuse.

The reported claims cannot be charged because they are barred by the Michigan statute of limitations.

John Veldt, currently a teacher for Jenison Public Schools, and Jeff Moon, the former assistant principal at Fremont High School, were being investigated by the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office after several victims told law enforcement about alleged abuse in January. The victims were students at Fremont during the 1990s.

Deputies said the abuse allegations involving Veldt began as early as 1991 and continued through the mid-1990s when he worked at Fremont Public Schools.

As of Thursday, Veldt was still on paid administrative leave from Jenison. Moon resigned from his position in Fremont after the allegations came out.

Capt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said the allegations brought against the two are similar. Veldt and Moon were friends during the 1990s.

There have been no victims to come forward out of Ottawa County, Bennett said, including from Jenison Public Schools.

Newaygo County Prosecuting Attorney Worth Stay explained why no charges were filed: "There are some circumstances when a prosecuting attorney is barred from issuing charges due to statute of limitations laws."

In Michigan, sexual abuse cases face different statutes of limitations. For first-degree offenses, there is no time limit on when a crime can be prosecuted. However, for second- through fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct offenses, charges must be filed within 10 years of the crime or by the victim's 21st birthday, whichever occurs later.

"If police are not able to present the required probable cause evidence to the prosecutor within the time frame listed in the statute of limitations, then the prosecutor may nor authorize charges under the law," Stay said.

Following the fallout from the Larry Nassar case, lawmakers have been pushing for changes to Michigan's statute of limitations laws. A package of bills passed the state Senate on Wednesday. The legislation would:

— Extend the statute of limitations for criminal sexual abuse claims to 30 years after a person's 18th birthday. For civil lawsuits, the statute of limitations would be 30 years after their 18th birthday if they were minors when the assaults occurred and to 10 years if a person is at least 18.

— Would allow a person to file a civil lawsuit retroactively back to 1997 if the person was a minor when the assault occurred.

— If a victim has a retroactive claim, the person would have until a year after the law becomes effective to file a claim.

— Increase the penalties for possessing child pornography.

— Expand the number of people who are mandated and at least 18 years old to report complaints of sexual abuse to include coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, volunteers and bus drivers, and increase the penalties for failing to report cases.

— Clarify the law to ensure that governmental entities, including universities and colleges, do not have immunity from civil or criminal cases of sexual assault if they knew or should have known of the cases and failed to report those cases to law enforcement.

These bills will now move on to the state House for consideration.

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