Nassar in the news: Gymnasts testify before Senate Judiciary Committee
Retired Olympic gymnasts testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in support of S.534, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017, according to USA Today.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and would require amateur sports organizations to promptly report instances of sexual abuse to law enforcement.
Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have cosponsored the bill, along with 14 others.
Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher and three-time national champion rhythmic gymnast Jessica Howard were present at the hearing to describe their experiences with former MSU employee Larry Nassar, though USA Gymnastics was notably absent.
“I’m deeply disappointed they’ve sent a statement but no witness to question,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, according to NBC. “If they really cared, they would be here. They have to answer for what happened here.”
USA Gymnastics told NBC that they could not send a representative “because of pending lawsuits spawned by the sex-abuse scandal surrounding (Nassar).”
Dantzscher criticized USA Gymnastics for how they handled the accusations against Nassar, according to The Detroit News.
“USA Gymnastics failed its most basic responsibility to protect the athletes under its care,” she said in The Detroit News article. “They failed to take action against coaches, trainers and other adults who abused children, and they allowed Dr. Nassar to abuse young women and girls for more than 20 years.”
Rick Adams of the U.S. Olympic Committee was present at the hearing, and made a public apology.
“The Olympic community failed the people it was supposed to protect,” Adams said, according to philly.com. “We do take responsibility, and we apologize to any young athlete who has ever faced abuse.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee recently launched the “Center for SafeSport,” which is intended to serve as “an independent system for reporting and investigating allegations,” according to NBC.