Brooks and Frankel: Our Laws Protect the Most Vulnerable
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 1973, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act, legislation recently introduced by Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL). This bill 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. Next, the bill will be considered by the full House of Representatives.
“As a former U.S. Attorney, I worked on cases dealing with child exploitation and abuse, and I know first-hand how absolutely necessary it is that our laws protect the most vulnerable,” said Brooks. “Unfortunately, current law neglects to properly protect young athletes from abuse, but this legislation ensures that amateur athletic governing bodies promptly report allegations of sexual abuse and assault. I thank Chairman Goodlatte for bringing this bill before the Judiciary Committee, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senator Feinstein to pass this bill in to law.”
"It is shameful that young gymnasts were molested by their coaches, doctors, and trainers,” said Frankel. "Our young athletes must be protected from adults who abuse their trust. "
Yesterday, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act was one of the bills discussed at a White House meeting with Ivanka Trump; anti-human trafficking experts and leaders; a bicameral, bipartisan group of lawmakers including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Roby, Goodlatte, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO); and others.
The bill stems from recent allegations of sexual abuse made against personnel involved with USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming and USA Taekwondo. Last year, the Indy Star reported that at least 368 young athletes were subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of coaches, doctors or other adults affiliated with USA Gymnastics. Although USA Gymnastics received reports of sexual assault and abuse, victims claim that USA Gymnastics allowed the abuse allegations to remain dormant.
The Protecting Young Victims 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. Further, the legislation 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.
Last week, S. 534, companion legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now awaiting consideration by the Senate. Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young are original co-sponsors of S. 534. For more information on the bill, clickhere.
An electronic copy of the bill, as well as a background memo, amendments, and votes will be available as they are posted on the House Judiciary Committee’s website here.