The woman who filed a police complaint alleging she was raped repeatedly by former Michigan House speaker Lee Chatfield has been identified as his sister-in-law.
The accuser, Rebekah Chatfield, told local outlet Bridge Michigan that the lawmaker had first assaulted her when she was a 15-year-old high school student dating his brother; he was allegedly an adult at the time. The abuse allegedly first took place at Gaylord Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church around 2010.
Rebekah Chatfield claimed that the assaults persisted for roughly a decade—through the summer of 2021—and that the politician even assaulted her inside his office at the state capitol.
“He destroyed me, and has controlled my life since I was 15-16,” she said.
Lee Chatfield was first elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2014. He went on to become the youngest speaker of the House in more than 100 years, according to his biography on the state party's website.
Prior to his election, he served as a teacher, men’s soccer coach and athletic director at the school where the alleged assaults first took place.
Chatfield left office in 2020 because of Michigan’s term limits; he went on to serve as CEO of the economic development group Southwest Michigan First, but resigned following controversy over his track record on LGBTQ issues.
In a statement to Bridge Michigan, the former politician’s lawyer, Mary Chartier, vehemently denied the rape allegations.
“He had affairs while he was married, including a sexual relationship with the woman who is now claiming she was raped,” she acknowledged, “but they were both consenting adults.
“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.”
Police are investigating the accusations.