February 04, 2018 10:29 AM


The US Senate unanimously passed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017. The House also passed this legislation this week by a vote of 406-3. Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks  introduced companion legislation last year with her co-chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus, Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL), writes Susan Brooks in her latest newsletter. 

“Sports unite our communities and country,” said Brooks. “They teach us lessons of team work, integrity, dedication and commitment that last a lifetime. It is truly heartbreaking that so many young Olympic athletes suffered during their training by the hands of a doctor they trusted. The world has heard the powerful voices of every athlete who shared their agonizing stories of abuse, and it is because of their decision to speak out that future athletes will have a safer and healthier environment to practice their sport. I am pleased that with Senate’s passage of this bill, we are one step closer to protecting our future athletes from abuse, and encourage the President to sign this into law swiftly.” 

A 2016 IndyStar investigation exposed what is now known as the worst sexual abuse scandal in athletics to date. Now, nearly two years after the story broke, the world witnessed the power of a victim’s voice and what happens when 156 of those voices join forces to share their agonizing stories of sexual abuse by a licensed doctor named Larry Nassar. 

“I am proud to be a co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill that will protect young athletes from sexual predators like US National Olympic Doctor Larry Nassar,” said Frankel. “The brave gymnasts that came forward with their harrowing stories of abuse by Nassar, put a monster in prison and ignited the passage of this legislation. The courage of these women to speak out will protect future generations from the agony of mistreatment.” 

The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act holds national governing bodies to new and higher standards. This legislation mandates training, increases requirements for reporting abuse, and reforms a broken system that has failed too many victims in the past. 

Specifically, it amends the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to require amateur athletic governing bodies - the organizations responsible for training amateur athletes - and individuals who interact with our amateur athletes to report any suspected abuse. Any individual who interacts with our amateur athletes must report suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, within 24 hours to law enforcement. If they fail to do so, they will be held accountable by the law.

 This bill also designates the United States Center for Safe Sport, an entity created last year by the U.S. Olympic Committee that is responsible for overseeing organizational reforms, to develop, implement and enforce policies, procedures and mandatory training for national governing bodies and their members. 

 The Center will ensure that when reports of abuse are made, they are investigated. It protects those who report abuse from retaliation and requires that until the investigation is closed, an adult who is subject to allegations of abuse is prohibited from interacting with minors, wrote Congresswoman from Fifth District of Indiana Susan Brooks.

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