House Passes Bill in Response to Sexual Abuse of Athletes

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today in Washington, the House passed a bill aimed at protecting young victims of sexual abuse. The bill was in response to the Larry Nassar case -- a Michigan doctor accused of sexually abusing dozens of athletes. 
 
The bill would require athletic organizations to report sexual abuse to law enforcement immediately. Lawmakers behind the bill say they hope it prevents this type of abuse from happening again. 
 
On the House floor, Indiana Congresswoman Susan Brooks made a passionate case for protecting young people from sexual abuse. 
 
“These are our Olympic hopefuls, our athletes, who are in gyms or swimming pools or athletic facilities with people who are supposed be taking care of them and training them,” Brooks said. 
 
Brooks’ bill would force amateur athletic organizations, like USA Gymnastics, to immediately notify the police when they become aware of even the possibility of abuse. 
 
Brooks says she knew she needed to do something -- after  a local newspaper investigation, revealed Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics did not immediately report allegations of sexual abuse by a team doctor and coaches. 
 
"The point is to protect future athletes, to change the procedures, practices..to make sure these people who are taking care of these incredible young athletes do not abuse that trust," she said. 
 
Doctor Larry Nassar is at the center of the USA Gymnastics case.  Nassar was a gymnastics team doctor who worked at Michigan State University - He’s accused of sexually abusing dozens of women, for decades. 
 
Congressman Jim Costa of California added an amendment to the bill, that gives abuse victims more time to come forward. Nearly 100 women are now suing Nassar for abuse. 
 
Many victims came forward, after hearing other victims’ stories. 
 
“Oftentimes what happens is a person that is a young athlete gets engaged in training and doesn't really realize sometimes until years later that they were a victim of abuse," said Costa. 
 
Brooks says "I also commend the young women who had the courage to speak out." 
 
Brooks says she hopes action in Washington gives victims some sense of justice. 
 
The bill now moves on to the Senate.

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