(Reuters) - Penn State will host a conference on child sexual abuse featuring abuse survivors Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart in the wake of the child molestation scandal that rocked the university and its esteemed football program.
The two-day event in October will bring together some of the top U.S. experts on child sexual abuse, prevention and treatment to help educate the public about the problem, according to a statement from the university.
Leonard, a famed American boxer, will give a keynote speech, and kidnap survivor Smart will be the final speaker at the conference. Both suffered sexual abuse as children.
Penn State came under scrutiny after revelations that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years, including incidents in university locker rooms.
The retired defensive coordinator was convicted in June on 45 counts of child molestation and is in jail awaiting sentencing.
An independent investigation commissioned by Penn State and led by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded that school officials were alerted about Sandusky's abuse, did nothing to stop it and decided against reporting it to authorities.
"Penn State has made a commitment to becoming a leader in the research, prevention and treatment of child abuse, and this conference is an important part of that," Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement.
"What happened at Penn State could - and does - happen in other communities across the country, and we hope that this conference will be a catalyst for furthering the knowledge that can lead to a safer environment for children in our nation and around the world," he said.
The conference, which is open to the public, will be held on October 29 and 30 at the Penn State Conference Center Hotel on the University Park campus. Tickets can be purchased at http://protectchildren.psu.edu/.
Meanwhile, lawyers for two of the ex-officials cited in the Freeh report as helping to cover-up early reports of Sandusky's abuse, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, will appear on their behalf in a Pennsylvania court on Thursday.
Both are charged with failing to report suspected child abuse and then lying about it to a grand jury. They have pleaded not guilty.
Neither will be in court in Harrisburg while their lawyers argue for the charges to be dropped.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Vicki Allen)