Brooks and Frankel Introduce Protecting Young Athletes from Sexual Abuse Act
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) introduced H.R. 1973, the Protecting Young Athletes from Sexual Abuse Act, which requires prompt reporting of suspected cases of abuse, mandatory training, and implementation of policies and procedures for preventing, reporting, and addressing allegations of sexual abuse at amateur athletic governing bodies. This bill is companion legislation to S. 534 introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young are original co-sponsors of S. 534.
“Sexual abuse impacts survivors for a lifetime,” said Brooks. “It is the first responsibility of coaches, trainers, doctors and amateur athletic governing bodies to protect our athletes and help them thrive. When sexual abuse allegations go unreported to the authorities and abusers are allowed to continue to work with and prey upon young athletes, it is unconscionable. It demands our action and attention. This legislation will help ensure that we are protecting young athletes.”
“The stories of USA gymnasts molested by their coaches, doctors, and trainers are shocking,” said Frankel. “This legislation is aimed at protecting our young athletes from adults who abuse their trust.”
The Protecting Young Athletes from Sexual Abuse Act stems from recent allegations of sexual abuse made against personnel involved with USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming and USA Taekwondo. According to the Indianapolis Star, over the past 20 years, at least 368 victims, many of whom were young athletes, were subjected to sexual abuse by coaches, doctors or other adults affiliated with USA Gymnastics. Although USA Gymnastics received reports of abuse, victims claimed that USA Gymnastics allowed the abuse allegations, including complaints made against coaches who trained and abused young athletes in multiple states, to remain dormant. The Protecting Young Athletes from Sexual Abuse Act:
- Extends the mandatory reporting requirements of child abuse to national governing bodies to ensure that reports are immediately made to local or federal law enforcement authorities.
- Bolsters “Masha’s Law” – the 2006 law that allows civil suits by minors against sex abuse perpetrators by eliminating the requirement that victims must prove monetary damages after they have already proven that the perpetrator sexually abused them. The bill also extends the civil statute of limitations for cases.
- Requires National Governing Bodies like USA Gymnastics to develop for each of its members: specific policies and procedures for mandatory reporting of sex abuse to law enforcement; policies and procedures to keep track of coaches who leave one gym due to complaints and then go to another gym and repeat cycles of abuse; and stronger oversight and enforcement policies so that sexual abuse is prevented.
The bill is supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), National Children’s Alliance, 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, National Children Advocacy Center, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).