Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act (H.R. 1973).
Chairman Goodlatte: Protecting the amateur athletes who represent the United States in competitions throughout the world is vitally important to the Judiciary Committee. These athletes are overseen by national governing bodies such as USA Swimming and USA Gymnastics which were chartered by the U.S. Olympic Committee. One of the greatest challenges facing these governing bodies is preventing the sexual abuse of the athletes they support. According to a recent study, over the past 20 years up to 368 amateur athletes were subjected to sexual abuse by adults affiliated with one governing body, USA Gymnastics.
The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act addresses the problem of abuse within amateur athletics. The act implements changes to reporting requirements, strengthens civil remedies for victims of abuse, and clarifies the duties of national governing bodies in handling allegations of abuse.
The bill first establishes a reporting requirement which includes a penalty for failing to report sexual abuse of the athletes. It also broadens the scope of individuals covered under mandatory reporting to include coaches, team doctors, or any adult authorized by a national governing body to interact with children. These are the same requirements imposed on other professionals and those who are in a unique position to observe abuse or evidence of abuse, such as nurses, teachers, and even film developers.
Additionally, the act bolsters civil remedy options for amateur athletes who are victims of sexual abuse. The provision clarifies that a victim of sexual abuse need not prove personal monetary injury of $150,000 when they sue their abuser. The act also allows for a court to award punitive damages to victims when warranted.
Furthermore, the bill specifies that national governing bodies are authorized to develop and implement training, oversight practices, and safety procedures with the goal of ending sexual abuse within amateur athletics.
The bill was introduced by Congresswomen Susan Brooks in the House with bipartisan support.
I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1973.
For more on today’s markup, click here.