Bills

Feinstein pushes for new legislation amid USA Gymnastics allegations

Strategy Room: David Mercer and Brad Blakeman on the California senator's push to reform how claims are reported in amateur athletic associations

 

USA Gymnastics is back in the news again, this time for something much darker than gold.

Amid a “60 Minutes” segment on Sunday that revisited sex-abuse allegations that have surrounded the franchise for years, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says she’s working on new legislation aimed at ensuring such allegations are reported immediately.

“If an amateur athletic association, like USA Gymnastics, receives a complaint, an allegation, they must report it right away to local police and the United States attorney,” Feinstein said on “60 Minutes.”

In a series of tweets, Feinstein affirmed she is “working on a bill” to help deal with athlete allegations.

In the CBS segment, former gymnasts Jamie Dantzscher, Jeanette Antolin and Jessica Howard described abuse they endured as minors under the guise of medical treatment from team doctor Lawrence Nassar, with some instances dating back to 1996.

“He would put his fingers inside of me and move my leg around,” Dantzscher said on “60 Minutes.” “He would tell me I was going to feel a pop. And that that would put my hips back and help my back pain.”

In 2015, USA Gymnastics waited five weeks before officially contacting law enforcement regarding the allegations surrounding Nassar.

Feinstein's new bill aims to prohibit such a delay in the future. She says it would require all amateur athletic associations to report allegations immediately to legal authorities.

Dantzscher, Antolin and Howard are not alone. An investigation by The Indianapolis Star last year exposed a whopping 368 cases of alleged abuse over the last 20 years in the gymnastics community.

According to the newspaper, a nine-month investigation showed that accused coaches were permitted to continue working at USA Gymnastics-certified gyms.

They also reported on a 2013 lawsuit in which two former USA Gymnastics officials admitted under oath that the organization’s policy pays attention to sexual abuse allegations that come directly from a victim or victim’s parent but claims coming from others are dismissed.

John Manly, the attorney who represents Dantzscher, Antolin, Howard and more than 40 others, echoed Feinstein’s concern that the real trouble lies in the lack of formal protocol for handling allegations.

“But the story here is that no one was watching to protect these girls,” Manly said on “60 Minutes.” “And they put medals and money first.”