Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) led a bipartisan group of Senators in hosting a press conference today with former members of the U.S.A. Gymnastics national team to urge support for the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act. Senators Collins and Feinstein introduced this legislation earlier this month, which would require amateur athletics governing bodies to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to law enforcement and strengthen oversight of member gymnasiums and coaches.
Senators Collins and Feinstein’s bill stems from recent allegations of sexual abuse made against personnel involved with USA Gymnastics and other U.S. Olympic organizations. An investigation by the Indianapolis Star found that more than 368 gymnasts alleged sexual abuse over two decades. Officials at USA Gymnastics failed to alert police, however, and coaches who were accused were able to move from gym to gym.
“Young athletes who train to represent country at top levels of competition, and all who aspire to compete, should not fear victimization by trusted coaches and sports officials,” said Senator Collins. “I have long worked to prevent sexual assault and ensure that survivors have access to the resources and support they need. By requiring amateur athletic governing organizations to promptly report every allegation of sexual abuse to the proper authorities, this legislation will help survivors receive justice and protect more people from becoming victims.”
Former gymnasts who participated in the press conference included:
- Jamie Dantzscher, 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, former U.S.A. gymnastics national team member, abuse victim
- Mattie Larson, former U.S.A. gymnastics national team member, abuse victim
- Jeanette Antolin, former U.S.A. gymnastics national team member, abuse victim
- Jessica Howard, former U.S.A. gymnastics national team member, abuse victim
- Dominique Moceanu, 1996 Olympic gold medalist, former U.S.A. gymnastics national team member, reform advocate
The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act is supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), National Children’s Alliance, Rights4Girls, University of Utah Law Professor Paul Cassell, Child Sex Crime Victims’ Lawyer James Marsh, Crime Victims Expert Steve Twist, National Crime Victims Center, National Association of VOCA Administrators, Child USA, National Organization for Victim Assistance, ToPrevail, ChampionWomen, National Children Advocacy Center, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).