tv Olympic Gymnasts Recount Their Experiences of Sexual Abuse CSPAN March 28, 2017 11:36am-1:17pm EDT
you can find this hearing at c-span.org. there is a link on the main page. you can find it by typing athletes in the search bar. we will show the hearing again in its entirety in just a moment. first, i want to let you know about some more live coverage coming up on c-span3 of the house ways and means committee meeting to consideration legislation to require the treasury secretary provide president trump's tax returns and other financial information from 2006 to 2015. we'll have the hearing live at 4:00. you can also watch live online at c-span.org or listen live on the free c-span radio app. after reports of sexual abuse of athletes in olympic sports, the senate judiciary committee held a hear wg testimony from former gymnasts who were abused by usa gymnastics personnel. we heard from a virginia prosecutor and a board member
thanks specially to our witnesses but also everybody who is attending today. you are very welcome. thank you very much for your interest in this issue. as you probably know, our committee, the judiciary committee, is no stranger to contentious debate. when it comes to championing the rights of those hoff been victimized, this committee has a clear bipartisan history. we are here today to build upon that bipartisan tradition and learn what more can be done to keep our children and young athletes safe from sexual predators. protecting children from abuseers has been a top priority for me and a lot of other members of this committee over the years. over 30 years ago, i sponsored the child abuse victim's rights act, awe bill to enhance civil and criminal penalties against
those who sexually exploit children. a version of this measure was enacted and continues to this day to provide a mechanism by which victims can seek justice. just last year, i worked with my colleagues to pass another important measure known as the survivor's bill of rights. it empowers survivors of sexual assault in the criminal justice system. sadly, we know that sexual abuse of children can occur in almost any setting. what's specially disturbing is when that abuse occurs by someone in a position of trust in what should be a common sense safe environment such as youth athletic programs. we find out sometimes it doesn't turn out that way. recent headlines have focused
our attention on troubling allegations of child sexual abuse in the gymnastics program around the country. usa gymnastics, the national sports organization that overseove oversees gymnastics was a focus of an investigation by the indianapolis star. the newspaper detailed hundreds of sexual abuse allegations from gymnasts across the country over a period of two decades. coaches, instructors and even the national gymnastics' team's doctor have been accused of abusing child athletes. unfortunately, this isn't the only national sport org zanizatn that made headlines for alleged sexual abuse by coaches and instructors in recent years. we all remember that the usa
swimming several years ago imposed lifetime ban on dozens of swim coaches for abusing teenagers. the outcry from the latest victims led us to convening today's hearing and explore whether we are doing enough to ensure children's safety in athletic organizations. for example, some have argued that usa gymnastics didn't alert the authorities to suspected sexual abuse until and unless a formal written complaint was submitted by a vic testimony or their family. if true, such a policy might have allowed predators to victimize children long after jim n gymnastic officials had reason to suspect sexual abuse. other media accounts suggest
that coaches weren't banned from the sports until years after they were convicted of crimes against children. sexual abuse is a heinous crime and should be treated as such. so i hope that our witnesses can help us understand why allegations of sexual abuse so often remain hidden instead of being immediately reported to law enforcement. the average perpetrator strikes multiple times before being caught, which is why it is so important that these crimes be reported promptly and investigated promptly. usa gymnastics has chosen not to appear today before the judiciary committee to answer any of my or my colleague's questions. we're fortunate to have with us today several individuals hoff
been through the unimaginable. we're going to hear, firsthand, about these experiences. we're also going to hear from the united states olympic committee. the organization certifies 47 national sports organizations that work with young people. we will hear how the u.s. olympic committee is working to ensure young athletes safety. we'll hear from oa prosecutor with years of experience prosecuting sex crimes. i thank each of our witnesses for being here today and for sharing enter stories and expertise. finally, i also want to extend my colleague on my left here, ranking member feinstein, for taking a very clear lead in developing a very important bill that is a direct response to these issues. i have joined her as an original
co-sponsor of this legislation, which would promote more reporting and give survivors tools to hold perpetrators accountable. i know that she will speak more about her bill, our bill, i should say, but i'm proud to be a co-sponsor. so now i will turn to ranking member feinstein for her opening statements. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman. thank you very much for being the original co-sponsor of this bill. it is very much appreciated. i want everybody here to know that to date we have 17 co-sponsors. senator blumenthal is one. senator susan collins. senator cortez masto, senator donnelly, senator ernst, senator flake, senator franken, senator harris, center hirono, senator
klobuchar, nelson, rubio, senator shaheen, senator warren and senator young. we are delighted to have them aboard all as original co-sponsors. i want to thank you for working with me and for your help of your staff. everybody has been quite wonderful. i would like to just recognize a few people who are here. i would like to recognize jeanette antolin, a former gymnast from california who was on the usa gymnastic teams in 1999 and competed as a gymnast for ucla. would you stand? thank you so much for being here. we appreciate it. and mattie larson, a usa national team gymnast, who is currently studying at ucla. would you stand, please?
thank you very much. i met jeanette and mattie along with two of our witnesses, jamie and jessica, who will speak in a minute, athletes a few months a in my office. i have never in 24 years had a meeting like that meeting, but the unity and strength these women have shown in pushing for greater accountability in olympic sports has made me just so proud of their courage. they are championing the prevention of sexual abuse to make sure that young athletes who follow in their foot steps do not experience what they had to endure. so it's because of their stories that the chairman, myself, senator collins and 15 other senators that i've listed came together to work on bipartisan legislation to make sure that all national governing bodies that oversee millions of
aspiring olympicens follow the strictest policies to prevent sex abuse. i believe this is one issue on which we can all agree and that we can work together to make a real difference and i'm so pleased that the u.s. olympic committee which is represented by rick adams here today, are you here mr. adams? oh, right in front of me. i'm sorry, strongly supports the bill as well. thank you so much. i first began to learn how sports organizations such as usa twie condo, usa swimming and in particular usa gymnastics handled sexual abuse allegations just before the olympic games in rio de janeiro. at the time it was reported that usa gymnastics considered a national governing body under the ted stevens act had repeatedly been notified of sexual abuse allegations against
its coaches but did not immediately report those allegations to law enforcement. these stories were heart wrenching and involved children as young as six years old. one such case revealed that a usa gymnastics -- that usa gymnastics had received at least four complaints about a member coach, william mccabe as early as 1998, yet never reported these allegations to police. according to federal authorities, the very next year, mccabe began to mow left one very young girl. in the meantime, he continued to coach children for seven more years. during this time usa jps not only avoid reporting mccabe to police but also reassured a concern mother that mccabe was in good standing.
mccabe was ultimately convicted of sexual exploitation of children in 2006 after a mother went directly to the fbi. he is now serving a 30 year sentence in federal prison. following the olympic games last summer, victims from all over the country began to come forward to talk about their abuse and the culture of money and medals we found had taken priority over their safety. survivors spoke about a culture that put enormous amounts of pressure on young children to keep quiet, to not complain, to simply adhere to whatever the grownups around them were saying. one mother wrote the judiciary committee to bring to our attention complete complaints about a usa gymnastics team doctor that went reported to the
police for five weeks. she wrote, and this is a quote, i learned that this organization at its highest level deceived me and my family. this organization not only failed to protect my daughter, but when they realized she had been molested attempted to hide it. mr. chairman, i request that that letter be entered into the record. >> without objection it will be entered. >> thank you. no mother should ever have to experience that kind of pain. before i discuss the bill we've introduced, i'd like to note that the committee invited usa gymnastics board chairman to testify here today, but he declined the invitation. he did however request that a statement be entered into the record which indicates the organization's support for the bill and its enactment and i ask that that be entered into the record. >> without objection it will be
entered. >> mr. chairman, the bill that you and i and the members here today introduced three weeks ago will lead to more accountability and oversight within usa olympic team sports. first, the bill mandates that those officiated with national governing bodies such as usa gymnastics and usa swimming must report child and sex abuse, child abuse and any sex abuse as soon as possible to law enforcement. second, the bill reforms the law that allows minor sex crime victims to sue their perpetrators. the bill also lengthens the statute of limitations for victims to sue their perpetrators, drawing from a bill that senator cornyn and i introduced earlier this year. it extends the statute of limitations from age 21 to 28 or
alt tern actively, ten years after the victim actually realizes the injury or violation. and third, the bill specifically delineates the responsibilities for all 47 national governing bodies chartered under the ted stevens act. under the bill, those bodies must train members and implement and enforce policies to accomplish several things. first, members must report immediately sex abuse to law enforcement. two, members must be allowed to easily report sexual abuse complaints to national governing bodies, such as the 24 hour hotline and other authorities. easy for a youngster to access. it simply cannot be the case as it is with usa gymnastics where
members reports of sex abuse were only recognized if they were made in writing. third, adults other than parents, should be prohibited from one on one situation with miners without being an observable and interruptible distance from another adult and of course, whenever a team physician examines a female minor, there should be another adult in the room. just as it is in the regular population. fourth, coaches who have unresolved sex abuse allegations against them and there are many will be preventive from continuing to work with children until there is no longer any risk to the child. with that i want to thank senator grassley once again for calling this hearing and i also want to thank the witnesses again for joining us today.
we very much look forward to their testimonies. thanks so much, mr. chairman. >> before i introduce the panel, i have a statement from usa gymnastics that they want put in the record and we will honor that request but they're also the same group that turned down the opportunity to testify today and it seems to me like they would've done their cause a lot more good but testifying than just giving us a statement for the record and then also from the national center for missing and exploited children, a statement to put in the record as well without objection. those things will be entered. >> mr. chairman, could you distribute that statement so we have it when we're questioning the witnesses, please? [ inaudible ] >> we'll get it to you. >> thank you. take this one.
>> i'm going to introduce the whole panel then i'll call you from my left to my right in that order. our first witness is jamie dansher. she won an olympic bronze medal in gymnastics in the year 2000 summer olympic games sidney, australia. she graduated from ucla, 2005 with a degree in psychology. rick adams, mr. adams is chief paralympic support and ngb organizational development at the united states olympic committee. before joining the olympic committee in 2010, mr. adams had served as ceo of the usa weight lifting president manager partners of rbc sports and president and ceo of echl.
mr. adams graduated from ucla and obtained his law degree rutgers university. jessica howard was the usa national champion in rhythmic gymnastics from '99 till 2001 and a finalist in the '99 world championships. she's a member of the usa gymnastics hall of fame. eric olson serves at the commonwealth's attorney for stafford county, virginia. he serves on the board of directors of the national district attorney's association and is chairman of his training and education committee. mr. olson has over two decades of experience prosecuting child abuse and domestic violence. finally, we're honored to have with us today dominic mochianu.
she and her team won the gold medal in gymnastics at the 1996 atlantic summer games. today she remains the youngest gold medalists in gymnastics history. she was inducted into the united states or usa gymnastics hall of fame and the usa olympic hall of fame. today she is an author. she's a business owner, an advocate and a motivational speaker. thank you all once again for being here. i think my staff informed you about five minutes but if you have a longer written statement, those longer written statements will be included in the record and i never wrap the gravel right at the red light but try to some up in a few seconds or less than a minute your last thoughts before you turn it over
to the next person. so would you start jamie, please. >> chairman grassley, ranking member feinstein and distinguished members of the committee. i'm honored to appear before you today. thank you. i fell in love with gymnastics just before i turned 3 years old when i saw mary lou reten on tv. my parents were both competitive athletes growing up but they didn't know much about gymnastics besides watching it every four years in the summer olympics. i played tea ball and i tried other sports but i never stopped asking them to let me take gymnastics. i wanted to be an olympican. i remember taking all the cushions off the case to use as mats and i would try to teach myself flips. after years of rearranging all their furniture, my parents finally put me in gymnastics when i was about seven and a half years old.
i loved it more than i even imagined i would and i loved to item belle and swing on bars because it felt like i was flying. i would try anything to be like the olympicans i saw on tv. i'd wear my hair liketh them, would dress like them, try to walk and stand like them and i perhaps my own salute over and over. my parents had to beg me to leave the jim after practice every time because i couldn't get enough of it. gymnastics brought me so much joy as a little girl. when i was 11 years old i started training as an elite gymnastics in a gym in california. i needed to work with more experiences coaches at that time. this was a big sacrifice for my entire family because it was a 90 minute drive each direction from home, both my parents worked five to six days a week and i also had six siblings that
were involved in sports as well. my coaches assured them that it would be worth it because i have the talent to go really far. financially my parents didn't know how they would make all this work but they decided to try in hopes that i would have the opportunity to get a college scholarship one day. gymnastics started becoming very intense at this point. i started training 25 to 30 hours a week including two workouts per day in the summer. my coaches were very serious and even scary to me at times because they would yell at me. my body was always sore and i always seemed to be tired but i was learning new skills so i thought that's what i had to do to accomplish my dream. i made the junior national team for the first time when i was just 12 years old. it was in palm spring, california. what i remember most about that competition is i was competing at the same competition of the girls that i only saw on tv,
like dominique. i was so excited. i made the usa national team every year after that. all the way up to the olympics. it was around then i was introduced to usa national team physician dr. larry nas sar. what i've only recently come to understand that the medical treatment that he performed for my back pain was sexual assault. dr. nassar abused me at the training center in texas. he abused me in california at meets and all over the world. many times the abuse took place in my own room in my own bed. worse, he abused me in my hotel room in sidney at the olympics games. when i first spoke out about my abuse, i thought i was the only one. i was disbelieved and even criticized by some of the gymnastics community for
bringing this deserving issue to light. now i know i'm not alone. more than a hundred women have come forward and shared stories shockingly similar to mine. children don't speak up when they're abused, they suffer in silence. they are taught to submit to the authority of adults. this is especially true in the hypercompetitive world of elite gymnastics. women do speak up and that is why i am here today. usa gymnastics failed its most basic responsibility to protect the athletes under its care. they failed to take action against coaches, trainers and other adults who abuse children and they allowed dr. nas sar to abuse young women and girls for more than 20 years. the federal law that governs our program defines the usa gymnastics. that law should now specify that usa gymnastics should abide by stricter policy in order to maintain its certification. it's time the law reflects that
usa gymnastics highest priority should be protecting their athletes from sexual abuse from coaches and doctors and that's exactly what usa gymnastics failed to prevent. i am more than grateful to this committee for inviting me to add my voice to those who are supporting this important new legislation. it will require usa gymnastics and other olympic sports organizations to immediately report child abuse to law enforcement authorities and will provide victims with greater opportunity to seek justice. generations of young athletes will thank you for your leadership and so do i. thank you. >> thank you, jamie. now rick. >> i am rick adams.
good morning chairman grassley, senator feinstein and members of the committee. i am rick adams, chief of paralympic sports, the national governing body organizational development for the united states olympic committee. my responsibilities include oversight and management of safe sport. the term we use for our ongoing efforts to protect athletes from sexual and other abuses. the stories of abuse that we have heard today are appalling, disheartening and unacceptable. the olympic community failed the people it was supposed to protect. usa olympic committee leads the diverse network of olympic sport organizations in the united states and we must therefore take responsibility for its failures. we do take responsibility. and we apologize to any young athlete who has ever faced
abuse. we recognize the difficulty of stepping forward to share your stories and it is our obligation to build on your courage and bravery to make real and lasting changes. that includes changing our policies and changing the environment that discouraged victims from reporting abuse. the u.s. olympic committee recently reached an important milestone with the launch of u.s. center for safe sport. the center for safe sport will be responsible for investigating and resolving allegations of sexual abuse associated with the national governing bodies which are the 47 independent entities recognized by the u.s. olympic committee to manage the training and development in each olympic sport. the u.s. olympic committee requires each national governing body in the center as a condition of membership. the approach that we have taken
with the center is similar to the approach that we adopted in the u.s. antidoping agency. that agency has very successfully concentrated expertise and ensured independence in investigations of doping issues. the u.s. center for safe sport likewise brings expertise and independence to our efforts to prevent abuse of youth athletes. we strongly support s 534, the protecting young victims from sexual abuse act which would require national governing bodies and their personnel to report suspected incidents of child and sexual abuse to law enforcement. this requirement compliments the rules that we established for safe sport. under our bylaws and the policies and procedures of the center, all national governing bodies and their personnel are required to report suspected
sexual abuse to the center and to law enforcement. finally, mr. chairman, senator feinste feinstein, i would like to take a moment to discuss the very serious issues concerning usa gymnastics. we share your deep concerns about usa gymnastics handling of allegations of abuse and we supported steve penny's decision to resign. we hope that his resignation will offer an opportunity for the organization to implement significant change. the abuse should have been detected, it should have been prevented and it should have been promptly reported. the olympic community failed and must do better. in the center, we seek to address one of the issues that this case highlights, the barriers and disincentives that victims may face when seeking to
report abuse. the center creates an independent path for reporting and an independent system for investigating and resolving cases of sexual abuse. the center removes the investigation and resolution of allegations of sexual abuse from the control of any national governing body including usa gymnastics. and it is a resource dedicated to education and awareness of the importance of reporting abuse. we believed that these changes will significantly improve the protection of youth athletes from sexual and other abuses. our work in this area will never be done. we will continue to look for additional ways to strengthen protections including supporting your important legislation to require reporting of abuse. mr. chairman, senator feinstein, we appreciate your leadership in
this area. a single instance of child or sexual abuse is one too many. with the launch of the u.s. center for safe sport, we have dramatically reformed and improved the olympic communities ability to prevent abuse of athletes. thank you again for this opportunity to be here today and i would be happy to answer any of your questions. thank you. >> thank you, very much. now jessica. >> chairman grassley, ranking member feinstein, distinguished members of the committee. thank you for allowing me to speak to you. the day i found my sport was the day i fell in love with it. but to achieve my goal of becoming a world class athlete i needed to switch to an elite coach. my first practice with my new keech was so intense that i spent the following two days
vomiting. when i did return, the work began. by age 15 i was usa national champion a position i held for three years but the fear and intimidation that permeated my training session took a toll. by the time i reached world championships my hips hurt so badly that at times i could barely work. when i was just 15 i had a rough practice two days before the competition. my coach called me into her room where the head of our program was also present. she yelled at me so severely that i sat perfectly still and my only movement was to pick the skin from my finger. among other things she told me i was an embarrassment to my country, my family and to her. that she had never been so humiliated coaching someone as she was of me and they would put me on a plane home and off the team if my practice wasn't better. by the end of the meeting my finger was bloody and i wanted to jump out the window.
parents did not go to the ranch soy went by myself. i was just thankful to have a few days away from my coach. i don't remember any adult taking responsibility for me. and the first time i met dr. nas sar i immediately trusted him. he was the premier usa gymnastics doctor with an international reputation and i felt lucky to have been invited to work with him. for our first appointment he asked me to wear loose shorts and no underwear. that seemed strange but i obeyed. as in training i wanted to be perfect. he began to massage my legs and then quickly moved inwards on my thigh. he then massaged his way into me. i was rigid and uncomfortable but i didn't realize what was happening. i was confused and thought that it must be just what happened to happen. this scenario happened repeatedly over the course of my week at the ranch. at no time was there ever another adult in the room. coming off of a year of difficult training dr. nassar acted like the good guy,
supporting me emotionally and promising me relief from the pain. i trusted usa gymnastics but i was sexually abused as were so many other athletes. more than 100 young women and girls have now come forward to accuse dr. nassar of sexually abuse. released to the indin star on march 3rd some of the 54 coaches with sexual abuse complaint file spanning ten years were not banned from gymnastics until years after usa gymnastics discovered they were convicted of crimes against children. as an adult, i spent years serving on the usa gymnastics board of directors with the mission of protecting children in my support from the psychological abuse i endured. money and medal. when an sexual abuse case came up during my time on the board, the concern was about the reputation of the coach, not the accusation of the athlete. as i have attempted to come to
terms with what happened to me as a teenager it is become obvious that usa gymnastics has not done nearly enough to protect athletes from any form of abuse. to show they are serious about making changes, usa gymnastics must be accountable and required by law to adopt a zero tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse. accusations must be reported immediately. it took five weeks for usa gymnastics to report dr. nas sar to the fbi when suspiciouses were raced only after conducting its own internal investigation. protect all children is of paramount importance that's why this bill is so vital because it requires governing bodies to immediately report allegations of sexually abuse and will make it easier for victims to report. this legislation will also greatly help victims by extending the statute of limitations giving athletes who were boogsed as children an opportunity to seek justice when they have a better understanding of what happened to them. there is nothing more motivate anxiety powerful than an olympic
dream but there is a long life to live after the span of a gymnastics career. my post gymnastics life has been fraught with issues that stemmed from the abuse i endured. it should be the priority of those in power to make sure that an athletes espost sport life is not spent dealing with the crippling effects of abuse. thank you for your effort to protect vulnerable young athletes. >> thank you, jessica. now eric. >> chairman grassley, members of the committee, ranking member feinstein, i'm the district attorney in stafford county attorney. they're called commonwealth attorneys in virginia and after 22 years as an assistant prosecutor i was elected the commonwealth attorney in 2011. i've been on the board of directors, the national district attorney's association since 2008 and i serve as the chairman of our training and education committee. i was hired in 1989 to be stafford's prosecutor for child abuse in domestic violence cases. back then child sexual abuse was
underreported and frequently not even investigated. almost 30 years ago my former boss had the foresight to see that the key to bring the dark secret into the open, the secret that children were being abused and we weren't doing enough about it. state legislate tours and the usa congress enacted significant measures aimed at protecting children from abuse and giving law enforcement the tools and resources to detect and hold offenders accountable. it was the perfect combination of state and federal cooperation. that decade saw the enactment of the violence against women's act 1994. it saw the establishment of the first child advocate centers, saw the enactment of mandatory reporting law requiring teachers, professionals and caregivers to report suspected abuse and it saw the multi-disciplinary approach to
child abuse investigations. these advances completely changed our approach to reports of sexual abuse and to a large extent the catalyst for that change was this body, the u.s. congress. why is that the case? how do you explain the fact that in a system that thrives on partisanship a deliberative body is able to enact legislation and steer systems of 50 different philosophies in a single direction? in order to live up to our world as the world's greatest democracy we must protect our children. that universal truth has guided this body for generations and over the last 30 years the strides taken, the law enacted and the funding provided has brought protection and comfort to countless children. unfortunately that's success has been tempered with the challenges of growing population and advances in technology. the advent of digital photograph and the internet has brought
child exploitation to the computer screen and been responsible for an increase. this doesn't suggest that i'm critical of the advancements we've made. as we constantly seek ways to protect children new challenges arise. let me address the one challenge that brings us all together. if proven true, and there's no question that it is true, just hearing these incredible women tell their story, the reports have a familiar ring. individuals associated with the major sports entity that entity entrusted by parents for the care and nurturing of their children who then go on to abuse that trust. this is not the first time it's happened and although painful to admit, it likely won't be the last. but just as past scandals have shown and just as child welfare workers and detectives and prosecutors have observed for decades a secret as child sexual abuse is in so many cases adults see, adults hear, adults
suspect, and adults know. yet even today a too many cases is never even made. i encourage this body to consider -- stated simply we can't combat this type of exploitation if we don't know about it. reviewed and supportive of ranking member feinstein's bill the protecting young victims from sexual abuse act of 2017. there is however one significance that i would like to offer related to this legislation. from the efforts of this congress over the last 30 years, local child welfare agencies and local law enforcement agencies have been given the tools to immediately respond to a reports of child abuse. in all accredited agencies a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach is taken the minute a report is received. i encourage you to continue to rely on the existing systems in states across the country and if you expand the federal system of mandatory reporting to ensure
that an immediate report is made to local authorities as well as federal authorities in those duel jurisdiction cases i suggest this because we're well positioned to respond in the way the public expects us to respond. it's what we do every day. i thank you for the opportunity to address the committee and i assure you that those of us on the front lines are prepared to assist in any way we can to prevent the abuse of our young ang lease. we will protect and we will investigate and if the unspeakable occurs, we will hold offenders accountable. >> thank you. now dominic. >> senators, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. my name it dominique. i'm an olympic gym newscast to bring home gold for the united states. i'm here today to discuss the urgent need for change in the sport i love. in last several months hundreds of victims of sexual abuse have come forward to identify crimes that have occurred under the watch or lack there of usa gymnastics. as of today there is no effective system of checks and balances to protect these
athletes usually young girls from abuse to the extent that when sexual abuse has been reported the resulting action of usag has been inaction. i applaud and support the brave women who have come forward to share their painful stories of their abuse at the hand of the physician dr. lawrence nassar. their courage will hopefully bring change to an dangerous system that is failed to protect its young athletes. i personal was not sexually assaulted by dr. nas sar however after years of suffering physical, mental and emotional abuse while training under my personal coaches, mar ta and bella ca raleigh the most powerful people, i have first hand knowledge of how the culture set the stage for other atrocities to occur. improvements to the system and efficient safety members for all young american child athletes are long overdue. i'd like to share a little background about the system that has made it possible for predators like dr. nas sar to thrive unchecked for decades.
it is a culture of fear, intimidation and humiliation established by mar ta and bella ca raleigh when they took over u.s. gymnastics. their methodologies from a communist centerized system were swiftly embraced and implemented in the united states. the ca rollie's were granted total control with limited to no oversight. public complaints of any kind of abuse over the years have been few and far between but usag openly frowned upon and punished those who dear speak out about anything that could be construed as critical of the program even physical injury. it was due to these unhealthy standards that i myself at the age of 14 while training for the olympics was told to ignore severe pain in my leg and continue competitive routines over and over until i collapsed ot floor in the jim. it was only then that they were forced to look closer to
discover i had been training on a broken leg. the fact that in 1999 the national team training center was moved to the ranch a houston based property personally owned and operated only increased the lack of oversight. with child athletes required to reside at the ranch for days and weeks at a time without supervision of parents or other adults not employed by usag. it's in my opinion where atmosphere was created where verbal abuse was the norm. this coupled with fear of retribution for speaking out opened the door for sexual abuse to occur. regrettably the national team training center is still located on the grounds of the ranch where hundreds of young athletes train each year. each of dr. nas sar's sexual assault victims have come forward that stated fear preventing them from speaking out sooner. two of these women, have shared their experience with you this morning. prior to going public these
women shared their stories with me knowing i had years publicly called for greater oversight and have spoken out repeatedly about the neglect and mistreatment of athletes by usag. i strongly encourage them to the report incident to law enforcement and i immediately put them in contact with a third party expert in the field of child abuse in sports. but today the discussion is not just about dr. nas saern his victims, it is also about a desperate need for reordering of priorities to put the safety and welfare of young athletes first. while the president of usa gymnastics resigned this month after increased public awareness of this issues and dr. nas sar is behind bar, our sport is still stuck with the board of directors who have continuously put the organizations reputation above the well-being and safety of young girls. afterall it was, sag who voted to board steve penny with financial bowiuses even after
knowing about the sexual abuse allegation. no one from usag has even apologized for concern for the survivors who have come forward. it is encouraging to me however that this bill will benefit all youth sports not sole gymnastics and it is aimed at preventing behavior that leads to all forms of child abuse. participation in youth sports should be a joyful part of our childhood. i know first hand what it takes to reach the pinnacle of sport and i'm proud to have represented our country at the olympic games where i remain the youngest gold medallist in u.s. gymnastics history. i believe the culture of abuse undermine the sport greatness and is simply un-american. this bill will be a substantial step in allowing us to experience success in a safe and properly supervised manner. gymnastics is beautiful. my children enjoy the sport and i want them and others at all you levels to be safe and
protected. thank you for this opportunity to share my testimony. >> we'll have five minute rounds of questions so i'll start with dominique. what policies and procedures might have been followed to better ensure your safety while you were staying in the training facility in texas? >> i believe the mandatory reporting would've gone a long way to have all of the adults that were around us that knew there was a lot of verbal and emotional abuse that was going on that opened the door for other abuses to occur. many coaches saw these things and if there was an opportunity for the mandatory reporting for accountable, i believe they would've done that much sooner and it would've allowed us athletes a voice to speak up and say, no. this is not okay. and i believe that is extremely empowering for a young person, a child, a young woman and i believe that is extremely
important because we need accountability for these horrendous acts. >> how do you think that this, dominique, again, how do you think the legislation that senator feinstein and several of us cosponsored if enacted will make a difference to aspiring olympic athletes in the future. >> it will allow our community to be much more vigilant. there will be a mandatory aspect of reporting and there will be accountability which we have lacked all of these years and that is extremely important in this time period that we're in. >> okay. jamie and jessica, did your parents have the ability to visit or otherwise check on you while you were staying at the texas usa gymnastics facility? >> no, our parents were not allowed at the ranch and they're
also -- the parents are victims too in this. in gymnastics they're highly encouraged not to even go to practice. they definitely were allowed at camp. and like i've said before, you don't drop -- you drop your kid off at any camp, any youth sport cavern, you drop your kid off, you don't stay with them the whole week and you trust the adults to supervise and protect your child. >> jessica, do you have anything to add to that? >> no, just that my parents would've done anything to make sure that i could achieve my dream and that they are victims too. >> okay. to both of you, again, child abuse often remains a hidden crime. why did you feel that you couldn't speak out about your experiences until now or whenever you first spoke out about it? >> i personally didn't know i was abused or realize it until last july, july of 2016.
i trusted dr. nassar. he was the good guy. he was my buddy. he was the bright light at the camp. as far as the verbal abuse an emotional abuse, like we said, it was just -- that was the culture of it and i felt like if i said anything about that abuse, they were in control of taking my dream away in a second. >> do you have anything to add? >> just the same, i didn't realize until last august that this was my reality and then it just -- it hit me so, so hard and i just hope that this bill passes so that this never has to happen to another child. >> to both of you again and i'll start out with jessica, what policies or procedures might have been followed to better ensure your safety while you were staying at the training facility? >> at the very least there should have been another adult in the room. i should not have been alone with dr. nas sar and i was alone
with him every single day i was there and there was no adult that i remember having any responsibility for me. i think that if somebody had been in that room, it would not have happened. >> and you have anything to add jamie to that. >> i agree and also bringing more -- more awareness, nobody ever told us that a policy was even to be alone or that you needed another adult. i never knew that as a child. and just maybe, you know -- it's definitely obviously it's very difficult to talk about but i think it's really important to educate people and even the athletes about what is right and what is wrong. i just trusted the doctor. >> okay. eric, this will be my last question and then i'll turn to senator feinstein. in your opinion what accounts for continued reluctance on the part of some adults who have
reason to suspect child abuse to comeford? >> senator grassley, mr. chairman, that's a tall drink of water right there. i think there's a lot of different reasons. adults don't want to believe. that's the first thing. adults sbruft don't want to believe it. i think there's a responsibility that adults have placing their children in this situation and if it's true that they've placed children in a situation they were abused or exploited or if they have oversight of a situation that permits that, that reflects on them and that fear of exposure so they don't want to believe it. i'm not talking about the abusers, i'm talking about the good-hearted adults whose heart is in the right place that upon hearing incidents or suspecting abuse don't immediately report it and it's not that they're bad people. they've made a bad decision and i wish i knew the answer to why they've made that bad decision but i think it's wrapped up you
certainly in sports in the goal being achievement and a focus on that final goal and in so many cases the athlete are secondary to that goal and that's the culture that has to change. >> thank you. >> thanks, mr. chairman. i want the women who testified to know how very proud i am of you for standing up. i know how hard it is and i know how hard it is to be in an intense public situation and discuss this kind of thing, but the faces that i saw in my office when the women first came to me really convinced me of the lasting impact of what was done to them once it was realized and all the feelings that go along with a woman much older than when she was abused when she was extraordinarily young and may not have understood it.
and one of the women there and i won't name her was married, had her child there and she was crying with the tears rolling down her face, so what that said to me is it takes a long time to get over this and i think your testimony here and the women that are supporting you is a big step in that direction and i just want you to know that. >> mr. adams, i would like to ask you this. you're the chief of the national governing body organizational development and it's estimated that some 8 million athletes fall under the umbrella of the 47 national governing bodies nationwide. "the indianapolis star" uncovered at least four cases in which usa gymnastics was warned of suspected abuse by coaches but didn't report them to law
enforcement. according to public records, these coaches went on to abuse at least 14 underaged gym in any events while usa gymnastics sat on these reports. how many times over the last ten years has the usa olympic committee been notified about a coaches sexual misconduct for any sport? >> thank you, senator. the number of times that i'm aware of working in safe sport is relatively low, the gymnastics case that's you're referring to, the information that we had was often times inaccurate and upon getting accurate information about these cases, our board took the step to ask for and ultimately the
leadership resigned. there are cases now that as you know under the center for safe sport it will be mandatory to track those -- >> will you track those reporting? >> i think that's one of the most important things, yes, we will track that reporting. that data will uncover what is clearly a failed system, the culture has been broken and part of that culture i believe is reflected in the lack of data around those instances. because of that, the center for safe sport will now provide a safe place that victims can report, it does not require a victim, it does not require a third party. the center can exert jurisdiction even through public reports, if the victim prefers
confidentiality, that will be afforded to him or her, and i think it speaks to the accountability in the independents that this will no longer be left in the hands of people who clearly did not exercise appropriate judgment in many, many cases. >> in my meeting in the office, what came through was that a number of women said, this is all about money and medals. they don't really care about us. that was the implication and coaches were not sanctioned. if a coach was suspected, they simply moved to another usa gymnastics approved facility and i think the women here can attest to that as being correct. the question comes, what can you do to see that coaches who have
participated in sexual behavior with young children are rooted out of your sport, and that goes for tie kwan doe and swimming, that goes for the whole thing. >> what we have done is through the center for safe sport, there is a searchable database now that every individual that is found to have violated the code will be in the database, a parent can search to see if their son or daughter's coach is in that database. one of the flaws in the existing system is what you just identified and that is to say where there was vigilance, the predators would avoid those situations and they would simply move as between sports, as between clubs and the issue of
banned lists is another area where their needs to be consistency -- >> will you have banned lists where a predator of whom you have knowledge and the victim has sustained that, will they be banned from going to another jim and doing it to another girl. ? >> based on the offense that they've committed, if they have been banned for that offense, yes, you will be able to search the database and it will reflect that. there will be instances of discipline that are lesser than a lifetime ban and so in those lesser cases it may be that this individual is able to work in a different place, a banned individual by the center for safe sport will be in the database and will not be permitted within the national
governing body community to be a member or to work in that capacity. >> that statement is a major statement. i think it's going to be hard to do, but any way that we can help you, we will and i think -- i am really heartened with what you say and i hope that gives heart to the women that their testimony can play a major role in stopping this for the future. thank you very much, mr. adams. >> thank you. >> senator kennedy. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank all of you for coming today and sharing your thoughts with us. i wanted to ask each of you to take about 30 seconds and tell me if you were king or queen for a day and could do anything you wanted to do, how would you fix this problem? we'll start here and go down there. >> well, i believe this bill will fix a lot of what is going
on in a lot of our problems in the sport and not only our sport but all youth sports. if we could eliminate any kind of abuse and also require the mandatory reporting for any suspected abuse, i do believe it will help clean up our sport and also help all youth sports for the future generations. the well-being of the athletes should always come first and to me this is one of the most important things in sport and it was lacking in our own sport tremendously, because everybody around us knew that abuses were going on, but they chose not to act because it became part of the cultural norm and that allowed the door to be opened because of the fear, because of the retaliation fear and so many things. so i do believe that if we could clean this up with the mandatory
reporting, i believe that will help a lot of our concerns from going on in the sport. >> senator kennedy, two suggestions. one i echo dominique's comments. if you expand mandatory reporting, you're going to address that code of silence that seems to descend. if individuals that suspect are able to keep their suspicions to themselves and many times they'll keep their suspicions to themselves. if it's against the law to keep them to their self, if it's mandated to report then they'll report. the other thing i would suggest is this, i think as adults we expect children to think like adults and that's the mind set that we as adults have to get out of. kids don't think like adults. just hearing the stories of these two amazing women that have told us about sexual abuse that they experienced and they didn't even realize it at the time and you have that and add a
layer on this expectation that they're supposed to report a bad thing that happens like an adult would do it. we need to educate these children. educate our athletes. we need to take time with every single athletes that's entering a national sports organization and sit them down and repeatedly educate them to let them know what their avenues are if they feel uncomfortable. i think that might go a long way to help. >> i honestly just really, really want everybody that falls in love with a sport to be safe and to go to the gym, to go to their club and be able to participate in an environment free of abuse. i think that the culture of fear, intimidation and control that permeates gymnastics is a very scary place to put your child. and i would want for my future children, i would want them to walk into any gym and know that they can love that sport completely and come out on the
other end as healthy adults and i truly believe that that is what our sport -- it's possible. we can do that. >> i also agree with everything that's been said. what i would do is add to that that i think as ms. howard said every young boy or girl deserves to be safe, supported and strengthened. there is tremendous value in sport and we need to create an environment where that value is possible to achieve. the other thing i would add and mr. olson mentioned it, i think the education and awareness is a really, really important piece and senator feinstein, i just wanted to add that part of the u.s. center for safe sport one arm of it is solely outreach an education and i think that is so important that we talk about and you've heard it today that so many times young boys and young girls and parents they simply
don't know. and i received an e-mail from a friend in colorado springs who's daughter is an aspiring archer and she's 13 years old and it was the welcome to the u.s. center for safe sport e-mail and it provided all the resources and the tools and the education and i immediately thought to myself, this 13 year old aspiring archer will have a different journey and i think that's very, very important. >> i obviously agree with what everyone said too. if i was queen as you said, i think that steve penny resigning or being forced to resign, i guess, is -- it's a good step, but i think it's a baby step, so if i was queen i would get rid
of every person in usa gymnastics that -- i don't think people realize that it's not that they only didn't report it and that this bill is going to be an amazing step and hopefully instill some fear into these people, but it's not only lack of reporting it, it's knowing about it and taking it further to protecting the perpetrators. so if steve penny, i know he resigned, but they're already talking about replacing him with people that would just rehire him any way and i would want to make sure that the same types of people aren't going to be in charge of usa gymnastics. >> thank you all. >> thank you all. i believe this is the order i have it for the other side, blumenthal and klobuchar and franken and hirono. is that wrong?
i'll let you guys argue it out. that's what i was told. >> she was here first. >> if you were here then you should go first. >> okay. thank you very much all of you and i come to this as a former prosecutor. thank you, mr. olson but also as the co-chair of the olympics caucus and i just want you to know that we are so proud of you, our athletes for being willing to put yourself out like this for our country but we're even prouder of you for coming forward today and having the courage to talk about what's happened and what you would like to see change. so thank you for that. mr. adams, i think i'd start with you. i am glad that this center for safe sports is starting and that you're here to take responsibility from the perspective of the olympics committee and what i keep hearing from the women up here
is this issue of reporting and could you talk to me about how the center for safe sport could help with that because clearly sometimes even when you say when you say there's mandatory reporting, people are afraid to report and what difference will it make for that? >> thank you for that. and again, i think the mandatory reporting obviously a significant component of that. what we have done with the center is to require that all incident are reported to both the center and to law enforcement. the center has a commiserate obligation to do the same. we have put in place penalties if individuals do not report. the code of the safe sport center has no statute of limitations. which i think is very important. the issue of encouraging and
ensuring that people report i think is in part about trust. the trust has been broken. the center and the olympic family need to rebuild that trust. that individuals believe that when they report they will be treated with care. they will be taken seriously. and that their case will be looked at on that basis. so, by requiring complimentary mandatory reporting, we believe that sends a message throughout the olympic movement that it is, in fact, mandatory. in every case. >> could you tell me more about factors that made it difficult to report for you? >> i just realized in july that i was sexually abused. as far as the verbal abuse, and emotional abuse, physical abuse,
it's just -- it was the culture. and these people are in control of my dream. and if we didn't do it their way or if we said anything, then we weren't invited back to camp. we wouldn't make the usa national team. you know? they were in control of everything. if we didn't weigh what they wanted, eat what they wanted, look the way they wanted, then they can take our spot away. >> i suppose you feel that way when you're more on the bubble, too, if you're going to be able to stay on the team or not. >> well, i look back. we were kids. and that's all we knew. we didn't know it could be any different. >> right. okay. thank you. >> thank you. >> miss howard? >> like jamie, i didn't really realize until last august that i had been sexually abused. i was very uncomfortable when it
happened but i didn't know enough to accuse the national team doctor, again, i was extremely lucky to be invited. i was the only rhythmic gymnast at this time that got to see dr. nsa sar. it was really unfathomable. so i just hope that through education people will be able to notice if something is going on and will be able to report it immediately. >> thank you. [ inaudible ] >> okay. senator feinstein and i was discussing the ages and i know with what we're seeing now is the charges against dr. nassar, 22 felony counts, two of the victims under age 13 when this happened. how old were you? >> i was 15. >> very good. and i would think the way you describe this when you were yelled at by your coaches and another guy to be so nice to
you, it was a two-pronged approach and how you felt and then he was going to be kind and this happened? >> he was on our side. he wasn't one of the scary people. you learn through all of your time in the gym that you just need to listen and obey. and he wasn't like that. he was very kind. >> okay. thank you very much. >> senator blumenthal. >> thanks, mr. chairman. first of all, let me join in thanking every one of you for being here today, particularly the athletes who have the courage and strength to come forward. your voice and face are of just intensible value in the compelling case that you make for changes in the way oversight
and scrutiny is provided to protect young women and girls. what happened to you is something i see through also the lens of a prosecutor having been one for many years before coming here. but through the eyes of a parent. what happened to you is every parent's worst nightmare. as a father of four children and having entrusted my daughter to coaches, somewhere lurking in the back of every parent's mind is the possibility in any sport that this kind of abuse can happen. and so, what you have provided us is a powerful insight into the need for oversight and care in this sport and every other sport when it comes to young athletes and it's not just the physical abuse as you put it so eloquently.
it is the emotional and verbal abuse and the culture of physical abuse that can go beyond just ordinary competitive life. i want to say how deeply disappointed i am that the -- that usa gymnastics has failed to come forward. i'm deeply disappointed that they have given us a statement but no witness to question. because i want to know what they are really prepared to do. beyond this paper, i want to know what action they're really going to take. if they say as they do here, the gymnastics community has been shaken to its core by recent events, i believe that they've been shaken to their core but if they really cared, they would be
here. and their failure to appear, mr. chairman, i think is unfortunate to put it mildly. they have to answer for what happened here. i want to ask mr. adams, how likely is it that no one knew? that's what i think the ordinary person would say. didn't somebody know? and isn't usa gymnastics accountable or should it be held accountable for knowing? >> in my view, the gravity and the volume of the information could do nothing but suggest that the answer to your question is yes. they should have known. and i believe that the athletes
have spoken very clearly to what is a flawed culture where the brand and the sport and the results are given a higher priority than the health and well being of the athletes. and that is what we need to change. that is why we have committed to education and awareness, safe places, resolution, independence, mandatory reporting. because these are the connective tissues that can change what's clearly so broken based on what we have heard today. >> as a law enforcement, mr. olsen, as a fellow prosecutor, how could they have not known? wouldn't you say in your professional judgment there's simply no way that they could not have known? >> i find it hard to believe
that somebody didn't know. i don't find it hard to believe that this code of silence existed. in the national sports organization. we've heard stories about it before. and hopefully won't hear stories about it in the future but we have heard about them before so i'm not surprised by that. i think jamie makes a very important point. we have talked about mandatory reporting. we talked about this culture to not report something because you don't want to believe it. but, you know, there's a boogie man out there and that is the actual protecting of the individuals or someone not only suspects but hearing multiple reports or a credible report of sexual abuse and that person is actually protected and then goes on to abuse somebody again. it's ignorance or i don't want to believe it and that's bad enough and mandatory reporting can address that but to hear the
stories of individuals that are allowed to continue or shifted to another sports organization because they're protected and then they go on to abuse somebody else, it is intolerable and inexcusable. i have seen it before. i wish i could understand how or why it happens. all i do is understand that it does happen and it's got to stop. >> my time has expired, mr. chairman. but i join you in expressing strong disappointment and regret that usa gymnastics is not here to answer that question. which is, as important as any question, how did they not know? they must have known. is the common sense reaction of a parent, a prosecutor, an ordinary person surveying this catastrophic damage that's been done to survivors of this terrible tragedy. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator
blumenthal. now senator hirono. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to add my thanks to the three young women who have come forward and the panel for your testimony today and i wanted to thank the chair and the ranking member for bringing this issue to the fore. this reminds me very much of sexual abuse in the military that has been going on for a long, long time. way too long. any time there's a control situation where there are power issues, set it ra, the victims are often very afraid to speak out and your circumstances describe yet another example of an environment of control where -- you come to trust someone who is abusing you. so, i wanted to ask mr. olsen, you have read the bill, have you not? >> i have, senator. >> so, are there -- the bill requires mandatory reporting and we are told that the mandatory
reporting of sexual abuse should be done, must be done by a certain categories or described individuals and that's usually the case on mandatory reporting laws but in a situation where there are no witnesses and if the victim doesn't come forward, how does 3457bd mandatory reporting address the problem? >> i think the language in the bill tracks most of the state bills that require mandatory reporting. and that indicates when there's a suspicion of sexual abuse so it doesn't have to be witnessed, doesn't have to be a formal complaint. if there's a suspicion of sexual abuse or child abuse, there is a requirement that it be reported. that's tracked in the bill. that's the way most states track it. and that's the standard for requiring an individual to make a report if they're covered by the bill. >> so for the young women who testified here, you have read the bill. you know who's supposed to report. do the mandatory reporting. in your situations, were there people that you had encounted
who should have suspected that you were being abused? any of you. >> there's no way they didn't know. at the caroli ranch, after the second session, the treatment was mandatory. if you were injured, you went to see dr. nassar. after the lights were out and you weren't allowed in the gym. the only other area to get treatment was in our own rooms. and the other adults never supervised that. there was never another adult with me so how could they not know? >> i'm sorry. so if they were not there, how could they not know that you were being abused? >> how did they know? they didn't do enough to protect -- there's a grown man in my room alone with me. giving me medical treatment in my bed. they didn't do the very least and make sure there was another adult in there. at the very least.
>> so do you all think that under this bill in a situation like that that they needed to take some kind of an affirmative action in they should have asked you what's going on? is there anything happening? that's what you think -- >> i think the bill instills fear hopefully but i think also maybe just having one conversation with us would have, you know, about what's appropriate and what's not. and just bringing more awareness to the issue. >> and i also believe not only was dr. nassar abusive, but remember, there's a many coaches were very abusive. they're not going to report themselves but there are people around that need to be educated on what is appropriate training, that's positive to the athletes, and what are the appropriate training methods to use that is positive and enhancing to the athletes but not abusive. and so, a lot of the coaches believed that this was the norm. the screaming, the yelling, the
belittling, the humiliation, the training through injuries, they need an education, as well. >> mr. olsen, do you think that the bill provides enough of a duty of care to these people who interacted with these young athletes to require them to go further than turning a blind eye? >> senator, there are provisions in the bill for training and education and awareness as all the women athletes indicate. awareness is a key factor in bringing it forward. as dominique said, the abusers aren't going to report themselves. and so, it's necessary for the athletes to be educated. there are provisions in the bill to provide a lot more education and awareness through the national organization. >> so do you think the bill requires a duty of care? for these people. >> as a prosecutor, that's more of a civil question. as a prosecutor, and a criminal
case, i think that's a little bit beyond my wheelhouse. >> thank you. >> so, senator feinstein -- we'll have some questions to put in writing. senator feinstein and i have concluded that most of the important questions have been responded to. so i want to thank you all. i know for some of you it's a very emotional thing to be talking about. and legitimately so. but thanks for telling us about your tough opportunities and, mr. adrams, i hope everything you toll us will be followed through by other organization within the olympics and thank you, mr. olsen. thank you all. meeting adjourned.
we'll have more live coverage later today when the house weighs and means committee considers legislation to require the treasury secretary to provide president trump's tax returns and other financial information. from 2006 to 2015. we will have the hearing live at 4:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. you can join us online streaming live at c-span.org or listen live on the free c-span radio app. c-span's voices from the road. we recently visited 17 historically black colleges and universities asking students what issue would you like congress or the administration
to address in the first 100 days. >> hello. my name is mia reeves. i'm a student here and in trump's first 100 days in office in office, i would love him to grasp an understanding in that we didn't all vote for him but we're all represented under him and like limb to work on building and maintains the relationships with other countries as our commander in chief. thank you. >> >> i'm a senior here. what i like to see for the first 100 days of the trump administration is just taking care of our schools, better the education. if anything, free education, public schools and anything else and like to see in the first 100 days better medicare. expanded obamacare as it started. so as a student and as a black man, i would like to see that. >> hello. my name is clare. i'm a senior pr major, graphic zigs minor at howard university and in the first 100 days of trump's presidency, i would like
for him and congress to address the issues with federal funding toward women's services because that affects people like myself and other middle class and definitely lower class people. >> hi. my name is michael. i'm a junior here at john c. smith and for the first 100 days i believe that trump should improve his immigration policy. i mean, for one, the muslim ban is -- i don't agree with the muslim ban. i have a friend who is muslim and plus not all muslims are terrorists. as for the wall policy, i don't think it's going to work either. i mean, i do believe that illegal immigration shouldn't like -- it's an issue and all but building a wall won't help. >> i'm mia ball, a communications major and my message to president trump, i know a lot of candidates make a
lot of promises running for president but i would actually like him to lower the rate of unemployment. >> voices from the road. on c-span. next, a lock at the ninth circuit court, the largest circuit court in the country and whether it should be split up. three judges from the court testified on their caseload at 12,000 cases currently. and having the widest geographic jurisdiction in the country. the ninth circuit recently refused to reinstate president trump's ban on travelers from seven prominently muslim nations. prompting the administration to release a new, narrower ban. the new ban was blocked by a u.s. district judge in hawaii which is also in the ninth circuit.