BOSTON (CBS) – Gold medalist — and Needham native — Aly Raisman — is suing the U.S. Olympic Committee “and” USA gymnastics — arguing other adults knew about the serial sexual abuse by team doctor Larry Nassar — but never reported it.
In Massachusetts, many people who work with kids are required by law to report abuse and neglect. But that law doesn’t apply to private coaches.
Raisman says she believes some coaches may have known that she and other gymnasts were being abused by team doctor Larry Nassar.
She told 60 Minutes in November of 2017 that she was a victim of sexual abuse. Raisman says she’s angry that some are blaming the girls for not speaking up.
That got the I-Team asking why Massachusetts law doesn’t require private coaches to report child abuse.
Dr. Ellen Braaten a child psychologist at Mass General Hospital says she, “was shocked myself to find that coaches are not mandatory reporters. It’s a different relationship than an English or math teacher. Coaches are the ideal person for them to confide in.”
We took the concerns to State Representative David Linsky. He called the omission of coaches from the current legislation a glaring oversight. Telling the I-Team “this is a gigantic loophole and a very dangerous situation.”
Linsky researched and wrote a report, “Raising the Bar: A Vision for Improving Mandated Reporting Practices in the Commonwealth.” In it, he highlighted the need for coaches and other staff affiliated with private athletic organizations to be required to report abuse and neglect.
At the same time, Representative Kay Khan who chairs the joint committee on Children and Families had a task force looking at changing the law and agreed to add private coaches to the list of mandated reporters. And we discovered that wasn’t the only gap in the law. Linsky also found that the requirement in the legislation that mandated reporters receive training was never funded.
Kahn says it’s critical to provide some type of training even if it is an online program. Khan’s committee is now pushing a bill through the legislature that would include coaches and others who work with children to be legally responsible to report abuse and neglect.
Linksy, told the I-Team, “I have to thank you and Channel 4 for bringing this to our attention.”
There are already dozens of mandated reporters here in Massachusetts, including doctors, medical staff, teachers and day care providers.
The penalty for failing to report includes up to a $5,000 fine and two and a half years in jail. The law also says that mandated reporters, acting in good faith, who report abuse are not liable in any civil or criminal action for filing a report.