Athletes & Abuse Symposium

Past Event


What: An Athletes and Abuse Symposium to educate the public on the various instances of abuse and neglect that run rampant in sport.  The symposium was comprised of four breakout sessions.  The first was geared towards youth sports; the second covered high school and college athletics; the third focused on incidence of abuse and neglect among elite or Olympic-level athletes; and the final panel covered professional sports, from the NFL and MLB to the NBA and NHL.  

This one-day symposium was the first university event to closely examine athletes and abuse across the spectrum of sports and ages. Leading experts, athletes, officials, and policymakers shined a light on how to change the sports culture that puts children at risk.

WhereClass of 1949 Auditorium (Houston Hall) at the University of Pennsylvania 

WhenWednesday, April 25, 2018 | 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. 
(the day before Penn Relays)

Conveners: Richard J. Gelles, Ph.D.; Marci A. Hamilton, Esq.; Susan B. Sorenson, Ph.D. 
Ortner Center | University of Pennsylvania | CHILD USA

This event would not have been possible without the support of our generous sponsors: 

| Penn School of Social Policy & Practice | Penn School of Arts and Sciences | Children's Hospital of Philadelphia | Penn Athletics | Penn Office of the Provost | Penn School of Nursing | Penn Graduate School of Education | Penn Annenburg School of Communications | Robert A. Fox Leadership Program | Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse in Relationships | 

Athletes and Abuse announcement - Penn - 25April2017.png

In 1995 three young Olympic-hopeful athletes testified at an USA Volleyball ethics hearing  that they had been sexually abused by their coach, Rick Butler.  Butler was one of the winningest volleyball coaches, and the story was picked up by Sports Illustrated.  Although Butler was banned from the sport, over two decades later, he continues to coach teenage girls, including at national tournaments.  

The pattern of successful coaches with power over aspiring athletes repeats itself time and again in all levels of sport.  Like other arenas where children can be isolated and manipulated by predatory adults, sports present steep challenges to the protection of children. Sports, at all levels, are the latest frontier in the war against child sex abuse and the least studied. 

Athletes and Abuse Symposium
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall

Coffee and light breakfast


Opening Remarks - PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro


Youth Sports
Moderator: Sara Jaffee, Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

  • Steven Berkowitz, M.D., Director, Penn Center for Youth & Family Trauma, Response and Recovery
  • Patty Dailey Lewis, Esq., Executive Director, Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children
  • Steve Salem, Executive Director, Cal Ripken, Sr., Foundation
  • Dan Baum, Executive Director, The Redwood Groups Foundation


High School and College Sports
Moderator: Susan B. Sorenson, Professor of Social Practice, University of Pennsylvania; Director, Ortner Center on Family Violence

  • Sean V. Burke, Esq., Associate General Counsel, University of Pennsylvania Office of the General Counsel
  • Ann Coker, Ph.D., MPH, Verizon Wireless Endowed Chair, University of Kentucky Center for Research on Violence Against Women; Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Kentucky
  • Chris Newlin, MS LPC, Executive Director, National Children's Advocacy Center
  • Mary Wilfert, M. Ed., Associate Director, NCAA Sports Science Institute
  • Kathleen Brown, CRNP, PhD, FAAN


Lunch - Food Trucks Available


Midday Keynote & Book Signing
Dominique Moceanu, 1996 Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast


Olympic Sports
Moderator: Marci Hamilton, Fox Professor of Practice, University of Pennsylvania; CEO, CHILD USA

  • Shellie Pfohl, CEO, U.S. Center for SafeSport
  • Nancy Hogshead-Makar, CEO, ChampionWomen
  • Han Xiao, President, USOC Athletes' Advisory Committee
  • Steven Ungerleider, Ph.D., Co-Founder, Global Sports Development


Professional Sports
Moderator: Richard J. Gelles, The Joanne and Raymond Welsh Chair of Child Welfare and Family Violence

  • Justin Tuck, Former NFL defensive end, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders; Wharton MBA student
  • Mary Pilon, Contributing writer, Bleacher Report; Bestselling author of The Monopolists
  • Doug Glanville, Former MLB outfielder, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers; Consultant, Baseball Factory; Author of The Game from Where I Stand
  • Arthur Pincus, Author, The Official Illustrated NHL History; Former VP of Public Relations, NHL


Round Table Discussion

with Andrea Kremer, Chief Correspondent for NFL Network

Hors d'Oeuvres Reception

For information, contact:

CHILD USA University of Pennsylvania | Ortner Center