01.25.18

Peters Calls For Investigations, Congressional Oversight in Wake of Nassar Abuse Scandal

Peters: “Earlier this week, I approached Commerce Committee leaders about holding hearings and investigations specifically to address the sexual abuse of collegiate and amateur athletes.”

WASHINGTON, DCU.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) issued the statement below calling for congressional hearings and investigation into sexual abuse of collegiate and amateur athletes. He also called on Michigan State University to commission an independent, outside investigation.

“Yesterday, Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison, and Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon submitted her resignation to the MSU Board of Trustees. But yesterday does not mark the end of this disturbing and traumatic ordeal. 

“In the U.S. Senate, I serve on the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which has jurisdiction over collegiate and amateur athletics. I am pleased that this Congress, the Committee held hearings and passed legislation regarding athlete safety that moved through the full Senate mandating reporting of sexual abuse of young athletes and heightened criminal liability for abusive behavior.

“Earlier this week, I approached Commerce Committee leaders about holding hearings and investigations specifically to address the sexual abuse of collegiate and amateur athletes. In order to make systemic changes in the way these cases are handled, we must understand why there have been multiple instances of major sexual abuse scandals involving young adult and child athletes, as well as neglectful indifference by officials who should have protected them.

“I will also be introducing legislation to ensure that the leaders of colleges and universities have a clear responsibility and a requirement to be informed of all Title IX investigations involving employees - which would include sexual abuse investigations - in order to end the culture of neglect. Parents entrust colleges and universities with the future of their daughters and sons, and the safety of their children demands nothing less than the full attention of the institutions that cash their tuition checks.

“Now that the criminal proceedings are over, it is time for us to find out who is responsible at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics for enabling and failing to stop this criminal, who so clearly abused the patients placed in his care.  It would seem that after the failures at Pennsylvania State University and Baylor University, we still have not learned how to create institutional safeguards to protect students and children on college campuses.

“We tell our children to say something. We now know that many did speak up, but no one in a position of authority to stop this abuse listened. We need to learn the truth so those who enabled and protected Mr. Nassar are held accountable and our children are never abused by another Larry Nassar or Jerry Sandusky. 

“I believe that Michigan State University should commission an independent, outside investigation similar to those done at Penn State and Baylor. Regardless of whether MSU takes this step, I will work to initiate and support the necessary investigation and oversight in the United States Senate. This past week, more than 160 survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse gave voice to the trauma they suffered.  We need to show that we heard them, that we listened to them, and that their bravery can be a positive force for change. Our children are watching, and the victims and survivors deserve nothing less.”