After Nassar verdicts, Congress to finalize bill on sexual assault reports next week

After Nassar verdicts, Congress to finalize bill on sexual assault reports next week 

Posted: 4:37 pm Thursday, January 25th, 2018

By Jamie Dupree

With lawmakers angered by this week’s guilty verdicts against former sports doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually molested over 150 young female athletes, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced on Thursday that Congress will finalize a bill next week that forces amateur athletic organizations to more quickly report sex abuse allegations to police.

“The crimes committed against these young women are atrocious and rattle us all to the core,” said Speaker Paul Ryan in a written statement.

“The fact that it went unreported to law enforcement is intolerable — and it’s a huge wake-up call,” he added.

As the Speaker announced that legislative move, other members were calling for a full-fledged investigation by the Congress.

“Given USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), and Michigan State University’s shocking failure to keep these athletes safe, I write to request that the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform immediately initiate an investigation,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) wrote in a letter.

“While Mr. Nassar has been brought to justice, albeit belatedly, we must investigate the systemic failure that enabled him to commit those horrific abuses over so many years,” Maloney added.

One Senator went further, asking leaders to set up a special committee to look into the controversy.

“Larry Nassar will spend a lifetime in prison but enormous disturbing questions remain as to how he was able to freely abuse young girls for decades,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

The matter has been on the radar of Senators for some time, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein recounted today how several gymnasts had visited her on Capitol Hill in February of last year, and told her about the case.

At a hearing in March of 2017, Feinstein then warned the U.S. Olympic Committee that Congress would act – as the Senate later passed a bill that forces amateur sports organizations to quickly report allegations of sexual abuse to police.

“The gymnasts, I understand, are writing a letter in support of our bill, and are coming here sometime next week,” Feinstein told Senators at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Senate approved the bill last November; the House has not acted upon it as yet.

The bill would force organizations like USA Gymnastics to report abuse allegations within 24 hours of hearing about it.

“My understand is the House wants to change it to 48 hours,” Feinstein said. “My plea here is for the House to take the Senate bill.”

Other lawmakers were also peppering USA Gymnastics with questions, asking about reports of non-disclosure agreements with some of the gymnasts.

“Did @USAGym try to silence abused gymnasts with non-disclosure agreements?” asked Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

“What is USOC doing to prevent future atrocities?” he added.

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