The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Monday evening to strengthen mandatory reporting laws for sexual abuse issues in amateur athletic organizations.
The new legislation would make it mandatory for amateur athletic organizations such as USA Gymnastics to report any allegations of sexual assault immediately to law enforcement. It also aims to create a method for all youth athletes in those organizations to bring allegations of abuse to an independent entity that would not have any potential conflicts of interest in reporting a potential crime.
The House passed a similar bill last spring, which was then revised by the Senate in November. The new version needed a two-thirds majority to go through an expedited process. It passed with a vote of 406-3. After Monday's vote, the bill needs to go back to the senate for approval before going back to President Donald Trump to be signed and become law.
The House's vote came between two sentencing hearings for Larry Nassar, the prolific convicted pedophile who spent a quarter-century sexually abusing young women and girls in part through his work with USA Gymnastics. The Michigan-based former doctor was sentenced to a minimum of 40 and up to 175 years in federal prison last week in Ingham County on seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. His sentencing hearing in adjacent Eaton County on three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct begins Wednesday.
More than 150 women and girls provided impact statements about Nassar's abuse during the seven-day hearing in Ingham County. Many of them used their time in front of the court to discuss the coaches, medical professionals and other authority figures who they say could have stopped Nassar sooner.
Former Olympians and national champions such as Jamie Dantzscher, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and Mattie Larson provided statements to the court in which they said that other adults within USA Gymnastics created a culture of intimidation and fear where Nassar could thrive by being "the good cop." Larson used her time in court to call on House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring the new legislation to a vote as soon as possible.
"We must ensure that ample steps are made to prevent anything of this nature and magnitude from happening again," Larson said.