State Rep. Becky Cash (R-Zionsville) introduced a bill in the Indiana House of Representatives early last month to protect youths from abuse in youth sports.
Cash said she felt compelled to introduce the legislation following multiple child sexual abuse cases that recently went through Boone County courts, including one involving a former Zionsville gymnastics coach who was convicted last year of child molestation involving a former athlete.
“I was also concerned after watching the USA Gymnastics trials unfold, where both coaches and other adults failed to make reports of suspected abuse,” Cash stated.
The proposed legislation will formally place a duty to report suspected child abuse on youth sports coaches, athletic facility staff and individuals in charge of schools and athletic facilities. A report of child abuse would be made to the Indiana Dept. of Child Services, local law enforcement and the appropriate school or facility. Failure to do so would result in a felony charge.
“Every child should feel safe whether they’re at school or at practice, and those adults around them have a responsibility to report suspected abuse,” Cash stated. “This legislation makes it clear that there is a duty to report these instances and failing to do so would be a felony offense. As a mother, former foster parent and legislator, I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our most vulnerable.”
The bill also would increase the penalty for failure to report from a Class B misdemeanor to a Level 5 felony, which is punishable by one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
House Bill 1128 is assigned to the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee for consideration.