This evening, legislation authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that will help protect amateur athletes from sexual abuse, passed the Senate and will now head to the President's desk to be signed into law. The bill passed the House last night by a vote of 406-3.
"The young athletes who train to represent our country at the top levels of competition, and those at all levels who aspire to compete, should not have to fear victimization by trusted coaches and sports officials," said Senator Collins. "Amateur athletic governing bodies, like USA Gymnastics and other U.S. Olympic organizations, will now be required to immediately report every allegation of sexual abuse to the proper authorities. I am pleased to see this bill become law and I believe that we have taken concrete action to end the thoroughly corrupt system that was exposed by these brave women."
Senators Collins and Feinstein's bill would require amateur athletics governing bodies to report sex-abuse allegations immediately to local or federal law enforcement. The bill further authorizes the United States Center for Safe Sport to ensure that aspiring U.S. Olympic athletes can report allegations of abuse to an independent entity for investigation and resolution, and to make sure that all national governing bodies follow the strictest standards for child abuse prevention and detection.
The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act stems from allegations of sexual abuse made against personnel involved with USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, and USA Taekwondo and follows hearings last year before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee on athlete safety issues.
The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act would also:
Make it safer and easier for victims to report abuse and mandate oversight to ensure strong sexual-abuse prevention policies are implemented.
Reform the law that allows victims to sue sex-crime perpetrators by extending the statute of limitations because it's often difficult for children to recognize that they have had crimes committed against them until much later on into adulthood.
Earlier today, Senator Susan Collins urged her colleagues to support the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act at a press conference with Republican and Democratic members from both the House and the Senate, and four former Olympic gymnasts.