Advocates reflect on Sandusky case after sentencing - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Advocates reflect on Sandusky case after sentencing


MADISON (WKOW) -- Advocates say the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case will be a historical marker in their fight to end child abuse, but a local activist believes Sandusky's words in a statement on the eve of his sentencing are just another violation for victims.

Hanna Roth is the founder of the Rainbird Foundation. It's a non-profit striving to end child abuse and bring the issue to the public's attention. Roth says one of the biggest challenges in her work is putting an end to denial.

Roth says Jerry Sandusky is in denial, and there may never be a day where he admits to the crime he's been found guilty of, but she believes placing blame on the victims is outrageous. That's what the former Penn State assistant football coach did in a phone interview with a Pennsylvania radio station saying that in his heart, he knows he didn't commit those crimes.

Sandusky goes on to blame a conspiracy for his arrest and conviction.

"A young man who is dramatic, a veteran accuser, and always sought attention started everything," says Sandusky. "He was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers. They won, I've wondered what they really won."

Roth says it takes a lot of courage for an abuse victim to come forward with his or her story, and Sandusky's accusations are another crime against his victims.

"You have these people who were once children, who were violated and now they're being re-violated by this man who not only does he deny he did it, but then he blames them," Roth says.

Roth says public denial is a big challenge to getting the word out about child abuse. Victims are afraid to accuse their attackers and afraid to talk about incidents of abuse with others, for fear that they might not be believed, especially with cases involving high profile people like Jerry Sandusky.

As for Sandusky's sentence of a minimum of 30 years in prison, Roth believes it isn't long enough to justify what the victims went through, but she says it is a win for victims and child activism nationwide.

Roth believes the sentence will empower many others to come forward to report crimes. It has also encouraged discussion about child abuse, driving a demand for change, which is Rainbird's goal.

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