Atkinson addresses Nassar fallout as new U.S. law is signed
The ongoing story of Michigan State and USA Gymnastics sports-medicine doctor Larry Nassar, accused of sex assault by hundreds of women, has those in charge of amateur sports organizations thinking.
That includes George Atkinson, president of the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association.
“It’s certainly going to make everybody more vigilant, and it raises awareness of what could go on,” Atkinson said on Wednesday. “And, because of that, we will all take a closer look at it.”
Nassar has been sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes. More than 250 women – many of them Olympic gymnasts – say the disgraced doctor sexually assaulted them.
Also on Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed into law the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act. It requires adults who interact with amateur athletes to report suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, to local law enforcement officials within 24 hours.
The statute of limitations on abuse will not begin until the victim realizes she or he has been abused.
The law also aims to fix a patchwork of state reporting rules with a federal law.
The new law directs the U.S. Center for SafeSport to create policies that require U.S. Olympic Committee Organizations – including USA Hockey and its affiliates, such as MAHA – to ensure adults who suspect child abuse report it to the Center for SafeSport, which is responsible for making sure abuse reports are investigated.
Atkinson, who was not aware of the new law, said that, beginning with the start of the current season, U.S. SafeSport, which was created last year, is responsible for investigating all claims of sexual abuse.
The organization was created so individual sports groups no longer have to deal with sexual abuse and other misconduct allegations on their own.
“The good thing about that is that it’s handled outside of Michigan,” Atkinson said. “So therefore no one can say whatever the final decision was because somebody knows someone else involved.”
“It’s certainly going to make everybody more vigilant