Congress Tackles Sexual Abuse After Nassar Sentencing

The bill provides three important protections for young athletes that would prevent another Larry Nassar from preying on girls and young women.

Larry Nassar's victims listen.

Following the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the now infamous USA Gymnastics doctor who molested over 100 girls, Congress is tackling sexual abuse targeting young athletes.

The House of Representatives passed a bill Monday night that will help to protect children and teens from sexual predators, such as Nassar, by extending the statute of limitations and upping enforcement of mandatory reporting rules.

The bill, which had already received wide support from lawmakers in both chambers of Congress, had already passed through the Senate, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) as one of its main sponsors. On Monday, the House agreed to pass the Senate’s version of the bill to make sure the piece of legislation got through Congress quickly. With a 406-3 vote, the bill is now on President Donald Trump’s desk.

When talking about the bill, Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Indiana) said that there has never been a better time to tackle the sexual abuse issue than now, especially regarding young athletes.

“As the Nassar sentencing comes to a close and the Olympic games quickly approach, we are reminded of the importance of protecting the safety and well-being of all of our athletes,” she said.

“How a serial predator like Dr. Nassar could have preyed on so many young girls for a long time in such a flagrant fashion is appalling,” Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) added.

Nassar became widely known as a sexual predator who would target young women under the guise of medical treatment. He molested over 150 young women and girls both as a Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor. But even as victims reported his abuse, MSU kept the doctor on for  many years more, allowing him to continue molesting his patients.

Once this bill is signed into law, it will require coaches and trainers to have any report of sexual abuse passed on to the police within a 24-hour window. It would also extend the statute of limitations for child victims to up to 10 years.

Unfortunately, many cases of child abuse go unpunished because child victims of sexual abuse don’t realize until later that they were molested.

The bill would also prohibit athletes under the age of 18 from being alone with an adult if their parent or guardian isn’t present.

We’re hopeful this new legislation will help young athletes by creating a better net of protection on which they may rely so abuse is not allowed to happen, not even once. Unfortunately, this type of action came too late for Nassar’s victims.

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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