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Lawyer: Chatfield accuser ‘shattered’ as Nessel closes sex assault probe

Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield faces felony charges for alleged financial crimes, but Attorney General Dana Nessel won’t file charges over the sexual assault claims that launched the case. (Bridge file photo)
  • Charged with alleged corruption, former Michigan House Speaker won’t be charged in sexual assault claims that spurred probe
  • Rebekah Chatfield, the accuser, is ‘shattered’ and ‘distressed’ by the prosecutorial decision, her attorney says
  • Lee Chatfield faces 13 felony charges for alleged financial crimes but has denied wrongdoing

LANSING — More than two years after she went public with accusations against her powerful brother-in-law, Rebekah Chatfield was "shattered to learn" he won't be charged for alleged sexual assault, her attorney said. 

Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, was instead charged Tuesday with 13 felony counts for alleged embezzlement and what Attorney General Dana Nessel called a "criminal enterprise” that involved his wife, who also faces two related charges. 

Rebekah Chatfield's sexual assault allegations prompted the lengthy investigation, but Nessel said her team was unable to produce evidence to prove charges "beyond a reasonable doubt."

"Rebekah is distressed beyond belief,” her attorney, Jamie White, told Bridge Michigan. 

Rebekah Chatfield said she came forward with allegations of sexual assault against Lee Chatfield in hopes of inspiring vulnerable teens who are fearful of reporting abuse. (Courtesy photo)

"She truly gave up her life. We filed no lawsuits. We've done none of that. This was just about trying to hold someone accountable that needed to be held accountable."


In an account she first shared publicly with Bridge, Rebekah Chatfield accused her brother-in-law of sexually assaulting and manipulating her for more than a decade, beginning in the early 2010s when she was a teenage student at the Christian school where he taught. 

Chatfield has admitted to an affair but denied any criminal wrongdoing, and his attorney on Tuesday said they are prepared to fight the corruption charges "every step of the way."

Nessel "got one decision right today by closing the meritless allegation of criminal sexual conduct," Mary Chartier told Bridge.

Rebekah Chatfield filed a police report against her brother-in-law in late 2021. Since then, she and Lee’s brother, Aaron Chatfield, are in the process of getting divorced, and the family has essentially "abandoned" her as she raises two children, and "they became homeless for a significant amount of time," he said. 

"This young woman's life has been, quite frankly, destroyed," White said.

Attorney General Dana Nessel on Tuesday said financial crimes against Lee Chatfield never would have been brought without Rebekah Chatfield going to police with allegations of sexual assault. But Nessel said her team was unable to find enough evidence to bring charges of assault to trial. (Screenshot)

Nessel on Tuesday credited Rebekah Chatfield for what she called "strength, her bravery and her courage in stepping forward to tell her story." The attorney general said she might not have ever charged Lee Chatfield with financial crimes had his sister-in-law not spoken out.

In additional to the sexual assault allegations, Rebekah Chatfield also alleged in interviews with authorities that Lee Chatfield  "misappropriated finances," which gave authorities "probable cause" to expand their probe," Nessel said.

Nessel announced she is closing the sexual assault portion of the case, but White noted that is not an acquittal and said he and Rebekah Chatfield are "not ruling out any options at this point."

They've worked with a private investigator of their own and could still consider a civil lawsuit — a step they have avoided so far, White told Bridge. "There's always civil options, but that hasn't been our goal, or we would have done it a long time ago,” he said.

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