Michigan House orders documents preserved after Chatfield sexual abuse allegations

(The Center Square) – Law enforcement is investigating after the 26-year-old sister-in-law of former Republican Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield accused him of years of sexual assault starting when she was 15 and lasting into 2021.

Michigan House Communications Director Gideon D’Assandro told The Center Square that House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Clare, has ordered a “litigation hold” upon allegations.

“With the new specific allegations about events alleged to have happened in the Capitol, the House is creating this hold for all members and staff to assist with any potential MSP and LPD inquiries,” “D’Assandro wrote in an email. “The House will continue to assist and cooperate with any police investigation.”

Rebekah Chatfield alleges the sexual abuse started as a teenager at Northern Michigan Christian Academy in Cheboygan County and continued through 2021 and even occurred in his Capitol office.

“He destroyed me, and has controlled my life since I was 15-16, the past 10-11 years,” she told Bridge Michigan in a series of interviews. “And I know the only way to get justice for this is to come forward and to file a criminal (complaint) against him.”

Rebekah told Bridge that on occasion, she initiated contact with Lee, but that “it was never consensual, because it started when I was a minor – the brainwashing, the mentality, the manipulation, the psychological, the emotional – he groomed me into being who he wanted me to be.”

Before entering politics, Lee taught high school near the church at which his father pastors, Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church. Chatfield became the youngest House Speaker in over a century when elected at age 30. He term-limited out afterward.

City Pulse first reported the story. On Saturday, the Detroit News reported that Michigan House lawyers told members to “secure and preserve” documents related to Chatfield.

“Their affair lasted for years, but they were both consenting adults,” Chatfield's attorney Mary Chartier said in a statement. “Mr. Chatfield deeply regrets the decisions he has made. It has caused great pain to his wife and family, and they are working through this together. But he did not assault this woman in any manner during their years-long adult relationship. He intends to vigorously fight these false claims.”

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