What Is The Protecting Young Victims From Sexual Abuse & Safe Sport Authorization Act? USA Gymnasts Stand Behind It
The trial of Larry Nassar came to a close Wednesday, with the disgraced former Olympics gymnast doctor sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting young girls throughout the course of his career. The scandal has brought renewed attention to the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, a Senate bill seeing to close institutional loopholes that can allow child sexual predation in sports to go unpunished.
The legislation, which the Senate passed in November, would mandate several changes to how authorities address sexual assault allegations in child sports. It would require all adults working for a National Governing Body, such as USA Gymnastics, to immediately report all suspicions of child sex abuse to law enforcement.
“Sexual abuse is one of the most heinous crimes and our legislation will finally ensure that adults who are responsible for the safety of millions of young athletes will be held accountable for preventing abuse and reporting any allegation of abuse,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who introduced the legislation, in a press release.
The bill would also allocate funds for the creation of an independent, non-partisan body to which Olympic athletes can report sexual abuse, and give victims more time to sue their abusers by extending the statute of limitations. This is important, Feinstein said, because it's "often difficult for children to recognize that they have had crimes committed against them until much later on into adulthood."
Former U.S. national champion gymnast Mattie Larson, who testified against Nassar during his sentencing, and several other gymnasts met with lawmakers in 2017 to discuss the subject of child sex abuse in professional sports, and according to ESPN, the bill is the result of those meetings.
Although the bill passed the Senate in November, House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn't scheduled it for a vote in the House of Representatives. While testifying against Nassar, Larson called on Ryan to take action on the legislation.
"Today I call on Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule this for a vote immediately," Larson said in court. "It's not only about switching [Olympics training] to a better location. We must ensure that ample steps are made to prevent anything of this nature and magnitude from happening again."
On Tuesday, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman tweeted a message of support for Larson, and similarly demanded that Congress "PASS THAT LAW."
Prior to being sentenced in Ingham County on Wednesday, Nassar was given a 60-year sentence in a separate trial for possession of child pornography. In yet another trial that took place in Eaton County in November, Nassar pled guilty to three counts of sexually assaulting young teens. These were different victims than those named in the Ingham County case, and Nassar hasn't yet been sentenced for his guilty plea in the Eaton County trial.
However, that last sentence will largely be irrelevant; Nassar is 54 years old, and has already been sentenced to 100 years behind bars, so he will spend the rest of his life in prison no matter how the Eaton County trial concludes.
During his sentencing in the Ingham County case, Nassar listened for seven days as 156 of his victims testified against him (or, in some cases, had their testimonies read by a third party). Judge Rosemarie Aquilina also read excerpts from a letter Nasser had written months earlier, in which he accused the media of "sensationalizing" the charges against him and insisted that he is "was a good doctor, because my treatments worked and those patients that are now speaking out were the same ones that praised and came back over and over."
Aquilina pulled no punches while delivering the sentence. "Your decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable," she said. "Sir, I’m giving you 175 years, which is 2,100 months. I just signed your death warrant."