On October 12th, Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus
and the student-run Widener Law Journal
hosted a daylong conference on the “Legal Implications of the
The program featured four panels; Understanding the
vulnerability of child victims, Criminal law and child abuse, Responses to
child abuse outside criminal law, and Ethical concerns in abuse cases. The need
for greater public awareness and new legal standards that would sufficiently
incentivize the reporting of child sexual abuse emerged as important lessons of
the Sandusky scandal and trial.
Students who had the opportunity to take in the program
shared their thoughts on what they learned and why the discussions that
occurred throughout the day were so beneficial. Presenters for the day included
Dauphin County, Pa. District Attorney Ed Marsico and Patriot-News Editor Cate
Barron. The Patriot-News won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Sandusky
“This area of law seems extremely tough, and I don’t know if
I could put up with these stories day in and out,” said 3L student Christopher
Woodward, who was particularly struck by Duquesne University School of Law Associate Professor and Director of
the Criminal Justice Program Wesley Oliver’s
remarks. “Professor Oliver’s statements were interesting. He effectively
demonstrated the dichotomy between a defense attorney’s public persona and
their court room behavior.”
Discussion of the media and the courtroom hit home for 2L
Student Nicholas Peters, who thinks he may actually be more likely to enter
this field of law. “The panel emphasized how public education is paramount.
Tightening up reporting laws and encouraging people to talk about these things is
an important first step.”
“The speakers’ personal experience was enlightening.
But it seems that the defendant’s struggle in these cases is often overlooked.
This public forum helps to make people think about stuff that they hadn’t
considered.” Said 3L Gabor Ovari.
Widener Law Journal Symposium Editor Caitlin Glenn reflected
on the day’s events as well, observing, “There is such an emotional aspect to
this practice area that it must be really tough,” before adding, “However, it
was a moving and important experience. Those who came left with a lot of
knowledge about how the laws should move forward— such as tightening up reporting
laws. The panel members brought some much needed public awareness, and we will
continue to encourage future dialogue on these important societal issues.”