USA Today | January 29, 2018
Kevin McCarthy and Susan Brooks
In less than two weeks, the world will gather to celebrate the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Our nation will watch over 200 American athletes compete at the highest levels of sport to represent our country on the international stage. While the world is captivated by these moments and the athletes who make them possible, their performance is the culmination of a lifetime of training, countless hours of practice, self-discipline and sacrifice. The youngest American to bear this pressure, a figure-skater from Palo Alto, Calif., is only 17 years old.
As we’ve learned, for some Olympic hopefuls these years of preparation were also years of abuse at the hands of adults they were supposed to trust. A 2016 IndyStar investigation exposed what is now known as the worst sexual abuse scandal in athletics to date.
Now, nearly two years after the story broke, the world witnessed the power of a victim’s voice and what happens when 156 of those voices join forces to share their agonizing stories of sexual abuse by a licensed doctor named Larry Nassar.
Unfortunately, under current law, amateur athletic governing bodies are not required promptly report allegations of sexual abuse they receive to law enforcement authorities.
This is unacceptable, and the law must be changed.
We will require amateur athletic governing bodies — the organizations responsible for training our young amateur athletes — and the people they employ immediately report suspected abuse cases.
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, which holds national governing bodies to newer and higher standards. Together, we worked to pass a similar bill, the Brooks bill, in the House in May by a vote of 415-3.
This legislation mandates training, increases requirements for reporting abuse, and reforms a broken system that has failed too many victims in the past.
The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act requires any individual who interacts with our amateur athletes to report suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, within 24 hours. If they fail to do so, they will be held accountable by the law.
To prevent future emotional, physical and sexual abuse, this bill designates the United States Center for Safe Sport — a central entity created last year that’s responsible for overseeing these efforts — to develop, implement and enforce policies, procedures and mandatory training for national governing bodies and their members.
The Center will ensure that when reports of abuse are made, they are investigated. It protects those who report abuse from retaliation, and as common sense would dictate, requires that until the investigation is closed, an adult who is subject to allegations of abuse against a minor is prohibited from interacting with minors.
As the Nassar sentencings come to a close and the Olympic Games quickly approach, we are reminded of the importance of protecting the safety and health of our athletes. We are strengthening protections for victims to ensure transparency and accountability and putting the safety and health of our athletes, and every young athlete who has ever dreamed of the Olympic stage, first.
Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is the House Majority Leader, and Susan W. Brooks is a Republican representative for Indiana.