Congress passed a bill this week requiring governing bodies for amateur sports (including USA Swimming) to report accusations of sexual abuse to law enforcement.
The bill received widespread support in the wake of the Larry Nassar case, where a former sports medicine doctor was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing young athletes. Nassar was accused of abusing more than 150 women over more than two decades.
- See the bill here, called “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017.”
Nassar’s work with Olympic gymnasts along with athletes in other Olympic sports has led a Congressional committee to investigate USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, USA Taekwondo, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University.
According to The Chicago Tribune, supporters of the bill cited “a patchwork of state laws on reporting suspected sex abuse” as bringing about the need for a national standard. The bill requires sport governing bodies to report allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement or face up to a year in prison. The bill passed by a vote of 406-3 and went to President Donald Trump for his signature. The 3 who voted no were R-Thomas Massie of Kentucky, R-Justin Amash of Michigan, and R-Mark Sanford of South Carolina.
Amash explained his decision in a Facebook post that he did not believe that the bill was constitutional, and that the federal government has “no general jurisdiction” on the subject of suspected child abuse.