Washington, D.C. – Adding to the House Judiciary Committee’s work to protect children from exploitation and abuse, the Committee today approved two bills to protect young athletes from sexual abuse and provide victim-centered support to survivors of human trafficking.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) praised today’s Committee approval of these two bills:
“The federal government’s most important duties are to keep Americans safe and carry out justice. Children are the most innocent and vulnerable among us and warrant the strongest protection of the law. The bills approved by the House Judiciary Committee today provide a number of tools to prevent and combat sexual abuse of young athletes and fight the ongoing scourge of human trafficking. I thank Congresswomen Brooks and Wagner for their work on these bills and look forward to the House voting on these bills and others soon.”
The Committee first approved the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act (H.R 1973), sponsored by Representative Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), by voice vote. This legislation requires prompt reporting of suspected cases of abuse, mandatory training, and implementation of policies and procedures for preventing, reporting, and addressing allegations of sexual abuse at amateur athletic governing bodies. It responds to recent allegations of sexual abuse made against personnel involved with USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, and USA Taekwondo.
“As a former U.S. Attorney, I worked on cases dealing with child exploitation and abuse, and I know first-hand how absolutely necessary it is that our laws protect the most vulnerable,” said Representative Brooks. “Unfortunately, current law neglects to properly protect young athletes from abuse, but this legislation ensures that amateur athletic governing bodies promptly report allegations of sexual abuse and assault. I thank Chairman Goodlatte for bringing this bill before the Judiciary Committee, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senator Feinstein to pass this bill in to law.”
The Committee also approved the Put Trafficking Victims First Act (H.R. 2473), authored by Representative Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), by voice vote. There is an important need across the country to ensure that trafficking victims are perceived and treated as victims of crime, and afforded the same justice, rights, protections, and dignity that other crime victims receive. The legislation approved by the Committee today, among other purposes, provides training to prosecutors on investigating and processing cases with a trauma-informed and victim-centered approach, and encourages states to provide appropriate services to victims of trafficking. The bill also calls for reports on the implementation of state safe harbor provisions and on how to improve mandatory restitution procedures for victims of trafficking in federal courts.”
“I’ve met with countless victims of human trafficking and listened to their painful stories,” said Representative Wagner. “They need help to rebuild their lives and that’s what the Put Trafficking Victims First Act of 2017 does – improves support, identification, and services for victims of this horrific crime.
“Additionally, this bill will enhance training for law enforcement, prosecutors and government agencies so they can better pursue justice and trauma-informed care for victims,” added Representative Wagner. “By better protecting children and survivors from being re-victimized and increasing education and awareness, we are putting victims first and helping them access the justice they need.”
Background: In addition to the approval of today’s bills, the House Judiciary Committee has also approved the following legislation to protect children.
The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 1188): This bill, authored by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), reauthorizes the two primary programs of the Adam Walsh Act—the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act and Sex Offender Management Assistance Program—for five years and makes targeted changes to make the system more efficient and just. These programs help prevent child abuse by ensuring the public has access to information on known sex offenders who may live in their neighborhood.
The Child Protection Improvements Act of 2017 (H.R. 695): Introduced by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), this bill ensures that youth-serving organizations have access to national background checks on prospective staff and volunteers through the FBI’s database. Currently, many youth-serving organizations only have access to state-level background check systems.
The Targeting Child Predators Act of 2017 (H.R. 883): This bill, authored by Representative Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), helps protect valuable information used to prosecute and convict child predators. Under current law, law enforcement is able to obtain the IP address of a suspected child predator and then subpoena Internet Service Providers for the user information attached to the IP address. The provider then may notify the user of the law enforcement inquiry, allowing the alleged child predator to destroy critical evidence. Under H.R. 883, Internet Service Providers must wait 180 days before notifying customers in child predator cases, where law enforcement has certified that such notification would endanger a person, cause the destruction of or tampering with evidence, cause flight from prosecution, or cause the intimidation of a potential witness.
The Strengthening Children’s Safety Act of 2017 (H.R. 1842): Authored by Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), this bill makes communities safer by enhancing penalties for sex offenders who fail to register in the national sex offender registry when they have a prior state conviction for a violent crime. It also ensures enhanced penalties for child exploitation crimes apply equally to all dangerous sex offenders.
The Global Child Protection Act (H.R. 1862): Authored by Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.), the legislation combats global sex tourism by closing loopholes that allow child predators to go unpunished for their abuse of children overseas. Specifically, the bill expands the conduct covered for child sexual exploitation cases that involve abuse occurring abroad to include sexual contact. It also broadens the offenses covered in the recidivist enhancement provisions in current law to protect the youngest of child victims.
The Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act (H.R. 1761): Authored by Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.), the bill protects child pornography victims by remedying a federal court ruling in United States v. Palomino-Coronado. This decision allowed a defendant to walk free from production of child pornography charges, despite photographic evidence that he had engaged in sexual abuse of a seven-year-old child, because the court found that he lacked the specific intent to produce child pornography prior to abusing the child. To address this loophole in the law, the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act adds additional bases of liability to the crime of child pornography production to prevent this heinous crime and bring criminals to justice.