WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee
Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and committee member Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) today
unveiled new legislation to improve justice for young survivors of sex crimes.
The Preventing Child Sex Abuse Act strengthens
a federal sex tourism law that prosecutors feared was too vague to convict
former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually assaulted hundreds
of young athletes, some of which occurred while Nassar had traveled across
state and international borders. The bill also cracks down on the use of
foreign charity work as a cover for child sex abuse schemes and closes gaps in
laws to better protect against secret sexually explicit recordings of minors as
well as non-contact sexual abuse.
“This bill is inspired by the incredible bravery and pursuit of
justice by the survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse. Their work to demand
accountability will improve the lives of survivors everywhere and, God willing,
help prevent future abuse. It’s essential that Congress strengthen and clarify
existing statutes to better protect our children and ensure that predators are
held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Grassley said.
"Parents across Georgia are increasingly worried about online
sexual predators who are targeting children. Our bipartisan legislation will
help keep kids safer online and crack down on predators and abusers to the
fullest extent of the law," Ossoff said.
Nassar was convicted of several state sex offenses, but he was never charged
federally for his illicit sexual contact with minors, even though he had
crossed state and international lines to commit this conduct. That’s because federal
authorities doubted whether his actions could be federally prosecuted based on
the existing language of the sex trafficking statute. The Preventing Child Sex Abuse Act corrects this issue and strengthens
other child sex abuse statutes by:
sexual predators from exploiting children during travel by clarifying that crossing
state or international boundaries with the “intent to engage” in illicit sexual
conduct constitutes a sex tourism offense. This provision would have increased
the likelihood of federal charges against Nassar;
down on sexual abuse under the guise of charity work by prohibiting the use of
an affiliation with international charities or organizations to further illicit
justice for survivors of non-physical sex crimes such as secret video recording
by clarifying that the definition of “sexual activity” with minors doesn’t
require physical contact.
legislation also expresses the sense of Congress that the safety of children
should be a top priority for public officials and communities in the United
States, and recognizes that survivors of sexual abuse – particularly children –
carry long-lasting physical and mental trauma. Congress has a duty to clarify
the laws to better protect children and hold predators accountable.
“Thank you to Senator
Grassley and Senator Ossoff for creating a federal bill that prioritizes the
safety of children by fixing the loopholes in the existing federal laws to
ensure perpetrators of child sexual abuse will face greater accountability for
their heinous actions under federal law. Children will ultimately be safer as a
result of this bill,” said Tasha
Schwikert Moser, 2000 U.S. Olympic Medalist.
“As Executive Director of
ICAA I fully support this bill and our Association fully endorses it. It closes several critical gaps in current
law. Safety of our children is paramount
and everyone should have an interest in working to better protect them. This legislation assists prosecutors and law
enforcement as we work to bring those to justice who abuse children,” said Jessica A. Reynolds, Executive
Director of the Iowa County Attorneys Association.
the introduction of the Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Act, legislation that
repairs a legislative loophole that allowed child predators like Larry Nassar
to escape accountability under federal law. We thank Senators Grassley and
Ossoff for demonstrating their commitment to survivors by correcting this
critical gap in the law" said
Yasmin Vafa, Executive Director, Rights4Girls.
“In the US someone is
sexually assaulted every minute. And every 9 minutes the victim is a
child. Yet only 25 out of 1000
perpetrators will end up in prison. Senators Grassley & Ossoff make an
unambiguous statement that we must focus squarely on accountability for people
who exploit children. This bill will
make the law crystal clear when it comes to the sexual victimization of
children, establishing a zero tolerance policy in federal law. We at ICMEC applaud those efforts and will
work tirelessly with Congress to ensure that anyone who sexually abuses a child
will be prosecuted and convicted,” said
Bob Cunningham, CEO of International Center for Missing & Exploited
“We commend Senators Grassley
and Ossoff for their bipartisan leadership - strengthening our country’s
ability to respond to predators targeting children and ultimately keep our kids
healthy, happy, and safe,” said Agatha
Tomasik, Executive Director of Stop Child Predators.
“Sexual exploitation increasingly involves predators coercing minors
into explicit activity that does not necessarily involve physical content. The
Grassley/Ossoff bill makes it easier for federal officials to target these
criminals,” said Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual
“Protecting our children from abuse is one of the highest
priorities for law enforcement. The Larry Nassar case exposed gaps in our
criminal code that hampered law enforcement’s ability to prosecute child sexual
predators to the fullest extent of the law. In closing many of these gaps, this
legislation will enable federal prosecutors to ensure those seeking to abuse
others physically, online, or over the phone can be apprehended and convicted.
We applaud Senator Grassley and Senator Ossoff for introducing this bill to
enhance law enforcement efforts to protect children from sexual abuse,” said
National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys National President Steve
is also endorsed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and
the Keep Kids Safe Movement.
Preventing Child Sex Abuse Act