May 11, 2017

Judiciary Committee Advances Feinstein Bill to Prevent Sexual Abuse in Olympic Sports

Washington—The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) bill, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act, to require Olympic Sports organizations to immediately report child and sex-abuse allegations to local or federal law enforcement, or a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department.

“Sexual abuse stays with victims their entire lives. U.S. Olympic governing bodies, coaches, and personnel have an obligation to do all they can to protect young athletes,” said Senator Feinstein. “All allegations of sex abuse must be promptly reported to local or federal law enforcement. Otherwise, they may not be treated with the seriousness that’s required. I’d like to thank Chairman Grassley for quickly moving our bill through committee and the survivors who shared their deeply painful stories at our hearing. We’ll be working hard to get our bill approved by the full Senate.”

Feinstein’s bill stems from recent allegations of sexual abuse made against personnel involved with USA Gymnastics and USA Taekwondo.

In addition to requiring immediate reporting of child and sex-abuse allegations, the bill would amend the Ted Stevens Amateur and Olympic Sports Act, which governs U.S. Olympic sport governing bodies, to make it safe and easy for victims to report abuse and mandate oversight of member gymnasiums to ensure strong sexual-abuse prevention policies are implemented. For example, USA Gymnastics would have to implement and enforce policies to ensure coaches and personnel are trained in sexual abuse prevention. 

The bill is supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), National Council of Youth Sports, National Center for Sexual Exploitation, Safe4Athletes, National Children’s Alliance, National Crime Victims Law Institute, Rights4Girls, University of Utah Law Professor Paul Cassell, Child Sex Crime Victims’ Lawyer James Marsh, Crime Victims Expert Steve Twist, National Crime Victims Center, National Association of VOCA Administrators, Child USA, National Organization for Victim Assistance, ToPrevail, ChampionWomen, Child Welfare League of America, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, National Network to End Domestic Violence, The Lauren’s Kids Foundation, National Children’s Advocacy Center, the National Association to Protect Children, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Futures without Violence, Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), Shared Hope International, National District Attorneys Association, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Representatives Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

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