RAINN Backs New Bill to Protect Athletes from Sexual Abuse

On March 6, a bipartisan team of senators, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), introduced a bill that hopes to change the way sporting organizations prevent and respond to incidents of sexual violence.

The bill will require amateur athletics governing bodies, such as USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, USA Taekwondo, to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to local or federal law enforcement or a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department. The bill amends the Ted Stevens Amateur and Olympic Sports Act, which governs amateur athletics governing bodies.

RAINN endorsed the bill, which has received wide support from lawmakers, victim advocacy organizations, research institutions, and victims of sexual violence.

The bill stems from widespread allegations of sexual abuse made against personnel involved with USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming and USA Taekwondo.

"This legislation is an important step to ensuring that allegations of sexual abuse of elite amateur athletes are taken seriously and acted upon swiftly, said Rebecca O’Connor, RAINN’s vice president of public policy. “We will work with Sen. Feinstein, Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa), and other members of the Senate to protect children from this abuse.”

“As the American public learns more about sexual violence, more people are coming out of the woodwork to say, “this happened to me,” and they want to see something is being done about it,” said Jodi Omear, RAINN’s vice president of communications.

Every 98 seconds, another person is sexually assaulted in the United States. “This issue affects nearly every family in America,” said Omear. “It’s on all of us to notice what’s happening and do something about it.”

RAINN is grateful to the members of Congress who worked on this legislation and prioritized the safety of victims: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Todd Young (R-IN).

Read the full statement from Sen. Feinstein’s office. Learn more about the warning signs of sexual violence and what to do if you suspect a child is being harmed.

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