The annual Cherish the Child Symposium in Harford County is accustomed to getting well-known keynote speakers.
In 2001 they had former kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart. Last year they hosted writer and film producer Antwone Fisher. And this year, the keynote speaker will be Aaron Fisher.
Fisher became nationally known as “Victim 1,” the face of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.
Amy Wagner, with Family and Children’s Services, is the chair of the planning committee for the symposium. She said she hopes Fisher brings to light some of the challenges children face when they break their silence about sexual abuse.
“One of the things with [Fisher] is he brings a lot of information on how the whole legal system was involved in this situation because of the nature of the case,” Wagner said. “I am hoping we get a different perspective on how we need to be better at believing when children come and tell us something.”
Sandusky was a former assistant football coach at Penn State University, who also operated a children's charity. He was convicted last year on multiple counts of sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
As the first of Sandusky’s victims to come forward, Fisher paved the way for other victims to tell their stories.
Fisher, along with his psychologist Michael Gillum and his mother Dawn Danielson authored Silent No More, Victim 1’s Fight For Justice Against Jerry Sandusky. All three will share their stories and perspectives at the Cherish the Child Symposium on March 28, 2014.
Wagner said that Gillum would talk about how challenging it was to not only help his client, but be an advocate for him too. Danielson will speak about how she helped her child through a trying time.
“I look forward to hearing more of what the victims go thorough, and where their source of resiliency comes from to overcome a situation like that,” Wagner said. “I think everyone can learn from it.”