Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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House Overwhelmingly Passes Brooks’ Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act

May 25, 2017
News Releases

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 1973, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act, with a vote of 415-3. This legislation was 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. S. 534, companion legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), recently passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young are original co-sponsors of S. 534.

Rep. Brooks and Rep. Frankel discuss the passage of H.R. 1973

Rep. Brooks and Rep. Frankel discuss the passage of H.R. 1973, here.

To watch Rep. Brooks’ remarks on the House Floor

To watch Rep. Brooks’ remarks on the House Floor, click here.

A copy of Rep. Brooks’ remarks on the House Floor as prepared are below:

I rise today in strong support of HR 1973 – Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act.

Since my time as a US Attorney and federal prosecutor, I have been committed to battling child exploitation and abuse.

Last year, I was shocked – along with much of the country – when the Indianapolis Star published an investigative piece that exposed troubling allegations of sexual abuse at USA Gymnastics programs across the country. 

According to their report, over the last 20 years, at least 368 young people – some Olympic hopefuls – were the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of adults they trusted – coaches, trainers, doctors and other adults associated with USA Gymnastics. They reported the abuse to USA Gymnastics – and unfortunately, USA Gymnastics failed, in many cases, to report their abuse to law enforcement authorities.

The article shed light on their stories and inspired the legislation that is before us today. According to the more than 5,600 pages of USA Gymnastics records released by the Indy Star, some of the 54 coaches who had been accused of sexual abuse by young athletes in their care weren’t banned from gymnastics until years after their history of abuse had been reported to and kept in complaint files by USA Gymnastics.

One USA Gymnastics doctor, Dr. Nassar, abused young women and girls for more than 20 years, and more than 100 women have come forward today to share their stories of abuse at his hands.

I understand how challenging it is to share painful stories of sexual abuse, and I am proud of the brave gymnasts who have shared their stories. Stories that should never have happened, and stories that went inexcusably unanswered.

Their stories demand our attention and action.

Not only to provide victims with the justice denied to them for so long, but also to protect future generations of Olympic hopefuls.

I want to acknowledge the work of Senator Dianne Feinstein of California who is leading this bill in the Senate, and my colleagues in the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus who joined me to offer the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act. Our legislation is an important step towards protecting our young athletes.

Our legislation addresses this dangerous silence that, as the Indy Star investigative piece showed, plagued the USA Gymnastics. A silence that led to more girls being abused, hurt, and harmful coaches who faced little to no repercussions for their heinous actions.

The abuse should have been first and foremost, prevented. The system utterly failed when the abuse was not detected, and not promptly reported. The Olympic community failed and must do better.

Our bill makes sure that national governing bodies entrusted with the health and well-being of young athletes and future Olympians promptly report any allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities and implement stronger policies and procedures to prevent this from happening again.

I applaud Senator Feinstein and my colleagues in the House who joined the effort to move this important legislation forward, and applaud the victims who shared their story to protect others.

For more information on H.R. 1973, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act, click here