Senator John Cornyn introduces bill to help child abuse victims following Larry Nassar investigation

Here's what we know
Here's what we know

HOUSTON – Larry Nassar, the doctor for Team USA Gymnastics, is now a convicted sex offender.

Senator John Cornyn is working to make sure people like Nassar are stopped before their victim’s list grows.

On Thursday, Cornyn, along with leaders from The Children’s Assessment Center, Houston Police Department and the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas and Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network held a conference to discuss the Justice for All Act.

The proposal would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other federal law enforcement agencies to utilize the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) model when investigating cases that involve child abuse, which has been seen as one source of the failures during the FBI’s investigation of Nassar.

The bill will also require the use of the MDT case review model to make sure cases don’t fall through the cracks because of the behavior of one agent.

Survivors like Kaitlyn Urenda-Culpepper said the bill is a step in the right direction.

“My outcry went unheard,” she said.

At just 16 years old, Culpepper said she was sexually assaulted at her high school in El Paso.

“The person that abused me was an employee at my high school. I reported it to local authorities. Nothing happened with my report. I reported it to the school district at which he worked and he was fired and rehired and was able to go on and assault three more students,” she said.

Unfortunately, Culpepper is not the only survivor. According to the Children’s Assessment Center in Houston, one in 10 children will be sexually abused before age 18.

Culpepper said her case was never tried in court.

“The district attorney, at the time, who was overseeing my case, said that I had some missteps in my words and therefore muddied the waters and my case couldn’t be prosecuted, “ Culpepper said.

Cornyn is hoping to help victims through his “Justice for All Act.”

The bill would require the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies to use the Multidisciplinary Team model also known as MDT when it comes to cases involving child abuse and assault.

“It is law enforcement, mental health professionals, forensic interviewers and advocates who support the families,” Lisa Bourgoyne, Program Director, The Children’s Assessment Center said.

Cornyn said he’s confident that if the MDT approach would have been used by the FBI in the Nassar case involving the sex abuse scandal surrounding USA Gymnastics, other victims could have been saved.

“We wouldn’t have a six-year delay before the FBI finally woke up and followed up on these allegations,” Cornyn said.

Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel represents about two dozen survivors who were abused by Nassar. She said Cornyn’s proposal is a piece of the solution.

“When you really look at what was motivating what happened and how intentional and willfully negligent the decisions by the FBI, USA Gymnastics and the USA Olympic committee were that goes well beyond a team approach,” Attorney Tuegel said.

If you believe a child has been abused, molested, neglected, or otherwise maltreated, please report it today. For more information on reporting child abuse: Call the Texas Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or visit txabusehotline.org.