House to vote on sexual assault reporting bill after Nassar sentencing

Jan 25, 2018
In The News

The House will vote on legislation next week to force athletic organizations to report sexual abuse allegations more quickly in the aftermath of the sentencing of gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Lawmakers are expected to consider the final version of a bill on Monday, which would then have to be cleared by the Senate before reaching President Trump for his signature.

Both the House and Senate each passed versions of the legislation last year. But some additional changes in the final measure will have to be passed by both chambers before it can become law, a GOP aide said.

Nassar, a former doctor for USA Gymnastics, was sentenced on Wednesday to at least 40 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 150 young female athletes.

The sentencing followed testimony from a total of 156 victims who recounted how they sought treatment from Nassar for sports injuries and were sexually assaulted.

“The crimes committed against these young women are atrocious and rattle us all to the core. The fact that it went unreported to law enforcement is intolerable — and it’s a huge wake-up call,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement on Thursday.

“The legislation that the House will take up next week makes major reforms to our nation’s amateur athletic governing bodies—including mandatory training, required reporting, and a reformed system to deal with allegations of sexual abuse. Our children must be protected from the heinous crime of sexual abuse,” Ryan added.

The legislation would, among other provisions, require reporting of sexual abuse to law enforcement within 24 hours. It would also require amateur sports organizations to establish "reasonable procedures" to limit one-on-one interactions between athletes who are minors and adults who aren't their legal guardians, unless they are in an "observable and interruptible distance from another adult."

Since the sentencing, multiple lawmakers have called for an investigation by Congress of how Nassar’s abuse went on for so long.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Oversight Committee, asked the panel’s chairman and ranking Democrat to launch a probe into how authorities at USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University did not stop Nassar.

“While Mr. Nassar has been brought to justice, albeit belatedly, we must investigate the systemic failure that enabled him to commit these horrific abuses over so many years, and ensure that the necessary changes are made to protect all students, athletes, and patients in the future,” Maloney wrote in a letter on Thursday.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) proposed going even further and establishing a select committee to investigate the role of the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics in the Nassar case. She asked Senate leaders to establish the select committee before the Winter Olympic Games start next month.

"A Select Committee is necessary because it would have an exclusive, undivided focus on the investigation and can be comprised of an equal number of female and male senators," Shaheen wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).