Penn State holds child abuse prevention conference
Still picking up the pieces after the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal, Penn State will hold a three-day conference on preventing child abuse. Notable participants will include Elizabeth Smart and Sugar Ray Leonard.
State College, Pa. — Pennsylvania State University, which was shaken by a molestation scandal that put former coach Jerry Sandusky in prison and tarnished its famed football program, holds a three-day conference starting this weekend aimed at preventing child abuse.
Starting on Sunday, it comes just weeks after Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for molesting 10 boys over more than a decade.
"The last thing I would have done is put on a PR stunt," Staley said.
She said the conference was intended to be "substantive and educational and awareness-raising."
Attendees from 27 states include police officers, preschool teachers and child sex abuse experts as well as people who may not deal with the issue on a regular basis.
Staley said the topic made people very uncomfortable and reluctant to talk about it.
"One of the things this conference is trying to do is end that silence," she said.
Another speaker at the event is swimmer Margaret Hoelzer, a two-time Olympian who won two silver medals and a bronze in 2008. She was the victim of abuse by a friend's father when she was 5 years old.
"This is certainly not something that anyone needs to go through alone," Hoelzer said. "Keep talking and keep talking until you find someone that believes you."
She added that victims could become victors, "whether that's as a CEO or an Olympian or in a happy relationship."
"You can be successful. Horrible things happen in life, but you can overcome them and be successful," Hoelzer said.
Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Cooney