News Releases

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Isakson: Sexual Abuse of Olympians Should Never Happen Again

Supports resolution to establish Senate investigation into U.S Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today joined with fellow senators in calling for the creation of a special committee to investigate the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics over decades of sexual abuse. The U.S. Olympic Committee, which governs USA Gymnastics, is a federally chartered institution and its athletes compete under the American flag.

Isakson joined a press conference led by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., earlier today to announce the introduction of a bipartisan Senate resolution to establish a select committee to investigate the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics and their role in aiding or ignoring criminal and/or negligent behavior of their employee, Dr. Larry Nassar.

“We have no tolerance, no patience and not a bit of time to give to anyone who would practice their perversion, and anyone who would in any way sexually abuse a participant in the Olympic games,” said Isakson at today’s press conference.

Isakson stated that the establishment of a special committee will help identify and correct problems that occurred in the past so that these actions do not happen again.

Isakson recalled the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and noted the pride felt by the state of Georgia in hosting the games, especially when observing the dedication of the athletes and the organizations and individuals who support them.

He explained that, “this focus by us is not a focus on the Olympic movement, but a laser-focus on those who… might be an enabler or tolerate abuses that are just unspeakable.”

“I’m proud to be a part of [this resolution]. I am proud of our Olympians who will compete starting this week, and I hope they know that we are looking out for them to see to it that what happened in this particular instance in gymnastics never ever happens again,” he concluded.

The text of the resolution can be read here. Video of today’s press conference is available here.

In addition to Ernst, Shaheen and Isakson, the resolution is also cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Tim Scott, R-S.C., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence has also endorsed the resolution.

Specifically, the resolution establishes a special committee of the Senate that would:

  • Investigate the U.S. Olympic Committee and national sports governing bodies, including USA Gymnastics, and determine the extent to which these organizations were complicit in the criminal or negligent behavior of their employees relative to sexual abuse;
  • Identify and recommend solutions to the systemic failures at the U.S. Olympic Committee and national sports governing bodies, including USA Gymnastics, that allowed for pervasive sexual abuse to continue for decades;
  • Identify actions that must be taken by the U.S. Olympic Committee and national sports governing bodies, including USA Gymnastics, to ensure increased transparency and protections for children, athletes and their families; and
  • Make findings and recommendations on any additional actions that may be necessary to hold the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics accountable.

A select or special committee is one that has been established by the Senate or U.S. House for a limited time period to perform a particular study or investigation.

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