At Press Conference with Former Olympic Gymnasts, Senator Collins Urges Colleagues to Support Legislation She Introduced with Senator Feinstein to Protect Athletes from Sexual Abuse

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins urged her colleagues to support the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, legislation she introduced with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), at a press conference today with Republican and Democratic members from both the House and the Senate, and four former Olympic gymnastsThis bipartisan bill passed the Senate unanimously in November and cleared a key hurdle last night by passing the House by a vote of 406-3.  It must now be passed by the Senate a final time before it can be signed into law.

“I want to thank the very brave young athletes who have spoken out about their personal experiences of sexual abuse and shone a spotlight on this horrendous crime,” said Senator Collins.  “This legislation would require amateur athletic governing bodies, like USA Gymnastics and other U.S. Olympic organizations, to immediately report every allegation of sexual abuse to the proper authorities.  I believe that by moving this legislation forward, 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.

 

Individuals who also spoke at the press conference included:

 

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Senator John Thune (R-SD)
  • Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
  • Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  • Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL)
  • Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN)
  • Jeanette Antolin, former U.S.A. gymnastics national team member
  • Mattie Larson, former U.S.A. gymnastics national team member
  • Jamie Dantzscher, 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, former U.S.A. gymnastics national team member
  • Dominique Moceanu, 1996 Olympic gold medalist, former U.S.A. gymnastics national team member  
  • Nancy Hogshead-Makar, J.D., CEO of Champion Women