Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield is in the news again, and this time it’s not related to his opposition to civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community. The Levering native, age 33, is being investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting his sister-in-law from the time she was 15. This is said to have occurred while the woman attended Chatfield’s church and his family’s Christian school.
Okemos attorney Jamie White, who is representing the complainant, reports that the matter has been turned over from the Lansing Police Department to the Michigan State Police.
According to White, of the White Law Firm in Lansing, the sexual assault occurred at the Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church and the Northern Michigan Christian Academy School. Chatfield’s father, Rusty, is pastor of the church and the school’s administrator.
Now 27, Chatfield’s accuser said the abuse continued until July 2021.
Chatfield is notable for his homophobia. In his first race for state Rep in 2014, Chatfield began his campaign to deny LGBTQ+ people their civil rights by using that as a wedge issue against fellow Republican Frank Foster, who supported adding sexual orientation and gender identity to ELCRA. Chatfield won the primary and the general election and then served three terms. He was the youngest Speaker in Michigan’s history.
As Speaker, Chatfield refused to advance bills that would expand protection for the LGBTQ+ community, going so far as to call the idea reverse discrimination. He has been outspoken in his belief that expanding protections for LGBTQ+ people infringes on “religious freedom.”
Curiously, Chatfield changed his tune about ELCRA after he left office. Southwest Michigan First, the organization that hired Chatfield shortly after he was termed out of the House, received backlash for hiring Chatfield due to his history of discrimination. When the organization began to lose financial support, a new non-discrimination policy was rolled out. Chatfield stated he supported the move.
However, Chatfield quickly changed his tune. He resigned his post, “for the sake of my conscience.”
One can only wonder what’s on Chatfield’s conscience today.