Penn State to host sex abuse conference

Story highlights

  • The conference will be held on October 29 and 30
  • "We have taken ... steps to ensure ... safer " communities, school president says
  • Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart are scheduled to speak

In the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, embattled Penn State University is hosting a sexual abuse conference and says boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart will give speeches.

The conference will be held on October 29-30 and comes after the well-publicized scandal that culminated with the conviction of Sandusky, a former assistant Penn State football coach on multiple charges of sexual abuse of young boys.

"Over the last nine months, Penn State has made a commitment to becoming a leader in the research, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse, and we have taken a number of steps to ensure that our communities are safer," Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a message promoting the conference.

Leonard, a boxing icon, is known for his lightning fast hands, legendary fights and recently for his role in several reality television shows. But last year in his autobiography, Leonard delivered the surprising admission that early in his career he was sexually abused by an unnamed Olympic boxing coach.

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Smart made headlines in 2002 when she was kidnapped from her Utah home at age 14 and held captive for nine months. Her kidnapping stunned the nation, and the media covered the months-long search to find her. Her abductor, Brian David Mitchell, sexually abused her during her time in captivity and is serving life in prison for the kidnapping and assault.

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Recently Smart has married and become an advocate for change related to child abduction.

Penn State has had its share of bad headlines since Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse against 10 male victims.

In July former FBI Director Louis Freeh released a report on Penn State's handling of the sex-abuse allegations against Sandusky, stating that the school's leadership showed "total and consistent disregard" for youths sexually abused by Sandusky.

Also last month, the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, banned the football program from bowl games for four years, stripped scholarships and took away the team's wins from 1998 to 2011.

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