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Report calls for changes to protect children in sports

Revelations about the prevalence of sexual abuse in elite sports, especially those involving children, have shocked people in Hawaii and across the country. The sexual abuse scandals in gymnastics and other sports have led to calls for major changes in how these sports are managed and governed, especially as many vulnerable young people participate intensively in these activities. Congressional leaders issued an investigative report criticizing the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and USA Gymnastics for their inadequate safeguards to protect athletes.

In particular, the report noted that even when evidence of sexual abuse was made known to officials, the organizations failed to report the crimes to the police or other law enforcement officials. Instead, perpetrators were protected in the interests of preventing harm to the reputation of the sport or the organizations involved. In addition, rather than taking extra care to prevent future abuse, the organizations allegedly aimed to cover up their own negligence and protect their reputations despite survivors coming forward to tell their stories.

Members of Congress said that the 18-month investigation would lead to a bill supported by both sides of the aisle to give legislators more authority over national sporting bodies. In particular, the bill would make it easier to hold these organizations responsible for assaults and other forms of abuse perpetrated against athletes. The investigation was prompted after hundreds of gymnasts and other athletes reported sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, a longtime team doctor for USA Gymnastics now serving a 175-year sentence for sexual assault.

Victims of sexual assault that took place within institutions like schools, churches or sporting bodies may be especially appalled at the failure of these entities to protect vulnerable people. Victims may seek advice and guidance from an attorney about actions they can take to seek justice for the abuse perpetrated against them.

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