Rep. Cook Votes to Protect Young Athletes from Sexual Abuse
WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today voted for S. 534, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2018. The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.
S. 534 extends the mandatory reporting requirements of child abuse to national governing bodies, like USA gymnastics, and affiliated amateur sports organizations, to ensure that reports are made immediately to local or federal law enforcement authorities. The bill also allows civil suits by minors against sex abuse perpetrators to be brought by clarifying that once a victim has established a harm occurred, the court will presume $150,000 in monetary damages. The bill also extends the civil statute of limitations for these cases.
According to one report, over the past 20 years, at least 368 victims, many of whom were young athletes, were subjected to sexual abuse by coaches, doctors or other adults affiliated with USA Gymnastics. Although USA Gymnastics received reports of abuse, victims claimed that USA Gymnastics allowed the abuse allegations, including complaints made against coaches who trained and abused young athletes in multiple states, to remain dormant. Just last week, Dr. Larry Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting numerous amateur gymnasts for over 15 years. His accusers number over 160. S.534 requires national governing bodies, like USA gymnastics, to report to law enforcement agencies on such criminal activity.
Rep. Cook said, “Every child deserves to have a safe childhood. Too often, loopholes in the law allow child predators to avoid detection. This common-sense legislation will help protect children from abuse and punish those who seek to harm them.”
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.