Last week, the House and Senate passed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act that makes it mandatory for sports organizations to report the sexual abuse of athletes to law enforcement or social services within 24 hours. The bill is now waiting to be signed into law by the President.
The bill was co-authored by Senators Susan Collins and Dianne Feinstein and was introduced in March 2017, brought on by sexual abuse allegations against personnel involved with USA Gymnastics, USA swimming and USA taekwondo. In a press conference, Senator Collins said, “I believe that by moving this legislation forward, we have taken concrete action to end the thoroughly corrupt system that was exposed by these brave women.”
Aside from mandatory reporting, the bill also expands the statute of limitation so that the period for reporting begins only when a victim realizes they have been abused, ensures easier and safer ways to report abuse, and requires extensive training for people involved in sports that will teach them to follow strict standards for child abuse prevention and detection.
The bill was passed by the House and the Senate a week after former Michigan State and US Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, was sentenced in Ingham County, Michigan to 40-175 years in prison for sexually abusing girls who sought medical treatment. At Nassar’s sentencing hearing, 156 survivors made statements about their experiences and exposed the system that allows predators to prey on young girls. Nassar is accused of sexually assaulting over 200 women and girls.
On Monday, an Eaton County court sentenced Nassar to another 40 to 125 years in prison on three counts of criminal sexual conduct. That sentence will be served concurrently with the Ingham County sentence after Nassar serves a separate 60 year sentence in federal prison on child pornography convictions.
The survivors who have spoken out about the abuse they suffered under Nassar have sharply criticized Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee for failing to take any action with regard to accusations against Nassar. Since 1997, women and girls have reported being sexually assaulted by the former-doctor, yet none of the institutions that employed him ever took any notable action to investigate him or protect other athletes from his assaults.
Even Michigan State’s Title IX coordinator dismissed reports from students alleging Nassar had sexually assaulted them. After Nassar was reported to the FBI in July 2015, he was no longer allowed to treat patients at USA Gymnastics, but was permitted to continue sexually assaulting young women and girls for over a year at Michigan State.
Newswire: Susan Collins Press Releases 1/30/18; CNN 2/5/18