House passes sexual abuse reporting bill after Nassar sentencing
The House passed legislation on Monday to force athletic organizations to swiftly report sexual abuse and establish preventative policies following the sentencing of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Lawmakers of both parties overwhelmingly supported the bill in the 406-3 vote. It now heads to the Senate, where it must pass before it can secure President Trump’s signature.
Passage of the bill comes just over a week before the Winter Olympic Games begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Nassar was sentenced last week to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 150 young female athletes. A total of 156 victims testified that they sought treatment from Nassar for sports injuries and were sexually assaulted.
The House and Senate each passed versions of the legislation last year and crafted a bicameral version expected to become law.
“As the Nassar sentencing comes to a close and the Olympic Games quickly approach, we are reminded of the importance of protecting the safety and well-being of all of our athletes,” said Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), the author of the original House version of the bill, which passed easily last May.
The bill would require reporting of sexual abuse allegations to law enforcement within 24 hours.
It further designates the United States Center for Safe Sport to develop and enforce policies and training for sports governing bodies to prevent physical, emotional and sexual abuse of athletes.
Athletic organizations would be able to establish policies preventing adults accused of sexual abuse from interacting with young athletes.
It would also require amateur sports organizations to establish “reasonable procedures” to limit one-on-one interactions between athletes under 18 years of age and adults who aren’t their legal guardians, unless they are an “observable and interruptible distance from another adult.”
Since the Nassar sentencing, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, USA Taekwondo and Michigan State University for information about their roles in tracking abuse of athletes.
“These organizations must have mechanisms in place to ensure complete oversight and prevent such abuses from occurring,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) has called for a select committee to investigate the role of the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics in the Nassar case.
“A Select Committee is necessary because it would have an exclusive, undivided focus on the investigation and can be comprised of an equal number of female and male senators,” Shaheen wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).