Trump Signs Sexual Assault Bill to Protect Young Athletes
The new law will require adults who interact with young athletes to report suspected child abuse within 24 hours to local law enforcement.
Last week, President Donald Trump signed into law legislation to prevent amateur athletes from being sexually abused, a response to the sexual abuse of hundreds of young athletes by Larry Nassar.
Nassar, the former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, has been given two concurrent sentences of 40 to 175 years and 40 to 125 years in prison for sexually abusing hundreds of young athletes.
The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, created by several Nassar victims and sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), aims to improve state reporting rules by requiring adults who interact with young athletes to report suspected child abuse within 24 hours to local law enforcement, reports The Indy Star.
Many women who spoke out regarding their abuse by Nassar said it took them years to realize they were being abused. Under the new act, the 10-year statute of limitations will not start until the victim realizes he or she has been abused and athletes under the age of 18 cannot be alone with an adult who isn’t their parent.
The new law also directs the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a group who is responsible for making sure abuse reports are investigated, to create policies that require U.S. Olympic Committee organizations to report suspected child abuse.
The center opened last year and was created so individual sports groups don’t have to handle sexual abuse and other misconduct allegations on their own.
A bipartisan group of 18 senators is pushing for a congressional committee to investigate how the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics may have enabled Nassar’s abuse. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) says there is ample evidence that many members of both groups were told of the abuse but looked the other way.
Trump’s signing of the bill also comes as his administration deals with its own abuse scandals. White House staff secretary Rob Porter and speechwriter David Sorensen both resigned last week following allegations of domestic abuse.
Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of women’s empowerment group UltraViolet, says although she is happy to see the bill become a law, it is “deeply disturbing” that Trump was the one to sign it, according to The Huffington Post.
“Protecting children from sexual abuse must be a top priority for everyone in this country, and this bill is an important first step,” Chaudhary wrote in a statement. “But watching Donald Trump ― a man who has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by more than 20 women ― be the one to sign this legislation into law is deeply disturbing. … In the last week alone, Trump repeatedly supported and sympathized with abusers over the survivors of abuse, and all amid reports that he feels the #MeToo movement is bad for businesses. The idea that he can sit in the White House and pretend to be a champion for the abused is absurd.”
President Trump defended Porter and has not addressed his two ex-wives who made the domestic abuse allegations.
“He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” Trump said speaking to reporters at the White House. “He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent.”
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