The House of Representatives passed the “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act” yesterday. It had previously made it through the Senate in November of 2017 but minor changes made by the House require another Senate vote.
The bill states that any “covered individual” that observes or finds out about a child who has been abused, including sexual abuse, should immediately file a report of the abuse.
“Covered individuals” is defined as follows in the bill;
“…means an adult who is authorized, by a national governing body, a member of a national governing body, or an amateur sports organization that participates in interstate or international amateur athletic competition, to interact with a minor or amateur athlete at an amateur sports organization facility or at any event sanctioned by a national governing body, a member of a national governing body, or such an amateur sports organization;”
The bill also grants victims of abuse the right to sue for actual or liquidated damages in the amount of $150,000. Also, a victim may sue for the cost of the action, attorney’s fees, and additional litigation costs that they incur.
A victim can also be awarded punitive damages & preliminary and equitable relief that the court deems appropriate.
If a “covered individual” fails to report a case of abuse, the bill states that under “Section 2258 of title 18, United States Code – Failure to report child abuse” they can be fined or imprisoned for no more than a year or a combination of both.
The bill also authorizes the U.S. Center for Safe Sport the ability to investigate and sanction individuals who are guilty sexual abuse.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told thehill.com, “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.”
Now the bill needs to go in front of the President of the United States in order for it to officially become a law!
For more information on USA Gymnastics’ Safe Sport policies, read Safe Sport & USA Gymnastics – Reporting Procedures for Sexual and Non-Sexual Misconduct.
USA Gymnastics responded to the passing of the bill with the following statement:
“USA Gymnastics fully supports the Congressional legislation that provides additional protections for athletes throughout the U.S. Olympic movement. USA Gymnastics has already implemented new policies and procedures under the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy, and we believe this legislation will enable additional, meaningful policies focused on athlete safety.
Along with many Congressional leaders, USA Gymnastics admires the courageous women who shared their deeply personal experiences in the sentencing of Larry Nassar last week. Their powerful voices and stories will guide our future decisions. We are committed to creating a culture that empowers and supports our athletes, and we hope everything we do going forward makes this very clear.”
Source: law.cornell.edu, congress.gov, usagym.org. thehill.com