You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Avera, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Children’s Home Society Host Child Sexual Abuse Conference

Media are invited Thursday, Aug. 18, to the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Media may come and film a portion of Matthew Sandusky’s presentation at 9:30 a.m. in the convention center ballroom, followed by a press conference at 10:05 a.m. in Meeting Room 9. At the press conference, keynote speaker Matthew Sandusky will give comments and will be available for interviews, along with State Senator Deb Soholt, and U.S. Attorney Randolph Seiler.

SIOUX FALLS (Aug. 16, 2016) – A Child Sexual Abuse Conference will be held Thursday, Aug. 18 and Friday, Aug. 19 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center in Ballrooms A and B. This event is sponsored by Avera, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of South Dakota, and Children’s Home Society.

“Child sexual abuse is one of the most devastating criminal activities we face. In South Dakota, it’s estimated that child sexual abuse impacts 4,000 children every year – and these are only the kids we know about.  The actual number is much higher, because abuse is often hidden for years, and some victims never tell. Through this event, we hope to have a lasting impact in our community, region and state,” said Randolph Seiler, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Matthew Sandusky, Founder and Executive Director of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, and a victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of his adopted father, Jerry Sandusky.

  • Erin Merryn, childhood sexual abuse survivor, and now author and advocate for the abused. She has been named 2012 Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year and among “HEROES Among Us” in People Magazine in 2013.

  • Robert Anda, MD, co-founder of the Adverse Childhood Experiences – or ACE Study – with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Victor Vieth, JD, Founder and Senior Director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, in Winona, Minn., and author of a groundbreaking journal article: “Unto the Third Generation: A Call to End Child Abuse in the United States within 120 Years.”

This is the third annual conference sponsored by Avera and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with other community sponsors, to explore issues of justice, well-being and safety in our state and region. Past topics have included human trafficking and living with disabilities.

“This year, we sought to bring together a group of people concerned for stopping the horrors that children experience in the form of sexual abuse,” said Deb Soholt, Women’s Health for Avera Medical Group, as well as South Dakota State Senator representing District 14 in Sioux Falls.

Throughout this two-day event, the goal is to open up a larger conversation between people from all walks of life in South Dakota. Attendees represent the legal system, government, health care, education, social work, ministries and more.

A turnout of over 350 is expected. “This high turnout demonstrates our collective need to move forward toward bring about real and significant change,” Soholt added.

Updated August 17, 2016