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Progress on Bill to Protect Olympic Athletes from Sexual Abuse

Congress is getting closer to enacting S 534, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017.  The legislation, which has had the active support of CWLA, was originally introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to address reports of sexual abuse of Olympic athletes.  The legislation has been the subject of ongoing discussion and negotiation over this past summer between the key parties from the two houses.  It now appears they are ready to move, perhaps before the Thanksgiving break.

The reports of sexual abuse at Olympic facilities by officials have continued to come out, most recently on Friday, December 10  and in a new edition of the television news program 60 Minutes on Sunday, November 12.

The bipartisan legislation would create new responsibilities within these Olympic training facilities through greater accountability of the national governing body that oversees the development, training and participation of Olympic athletes.  The legislation would require certain child abuse reporting responsibilities for personnel and protections for athletes, and legal action for past victims of child abuse.

Last year several news outlets reported instances of sexual abuse by the Women’s Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar.  More accusations are still surfacing and Nassar is currently in jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to three federal child pornography charges in July 2017. He faces 22 state charges in Michigan (where he had been based) and has been sued by more than 130 women in civil lawsuits filed by gymnasts and other athletes he treated while working with USA Gymnastics and while at Michigan State University.

The Senate bill also has the cosponsorship of Senator Thune (R-SD), Senator Nelson (D-FL), Senator Collins (R-ME), Senator Donnelly (R-IN) and senator Young (R-IN).

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