Ex hockey star: Penn State needs to help victims

Former National Hockey League star and sexual abuse survivor Theo Fleury is speaking out behalf of the victims in the Penn State sex abuse scandal.

The Stanley Cup winner, who writes about his own abuse by a coach in his book "Playing with Fire," says the focus needs to shift to those affected by the alleged abuse by Jerry Sandusky, a former top assistant of now-fired Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

Complete coverage: The Penn State Scandal

"Everybody's talking about (Jerry) Sandusky and everybody's talking about Joe Paterno and, you know, what's the university going to do for these boys?" Fleury said. "I'm sure they have a psychology and psychiatry faculty there where they can draw on those resources and get these boys the help that they need. You know, this is -- you know, it took me 27 years to come to a place of, you know, being comfortable in my own skin again. And, you know, my wish is that, you know, somebody takes the bull by the horns here and reaches out to these boys who have gone through what they have gone through."

Fleury says the sex abuse led him down a path of self-destruction. For 27 years, he says, he became an alcoholic and drug addict, hiding his secret from others. However, six years ago, he says he sought help and found peace. Fleury is now an advocate for child safety.

David Clohessy, the national director of SNAP -- the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests -- agreed on "The Early Show" that the university needs to take more action.

He said, "Heads must roll when adults conceal child sex crimes. But there is clearly a culture at the school of secrecy and self-preservation. That's got to change. That's going to be a long-term process. For starters, they have to educate staff and students about how to respond appropriately in this case. These rallies on behalf of the accused wrong-doer (Editor's note: The rallies were for Paterno, who hasn't been charged with anything; they weren't for Sandusky) ... it's a terribly chilling message. Right now, there is a criminal investigation going on and the staff and students have to reach out to anybody who saw, suspected or suffered abuse by Sandusky or others. But to rally publicly around alleged wrong-doers it just scares the dickens out of victims and keeps them trapped in silence."

Fleury said parents today have to take an active role in guarding their kids at all times.

"It's really a tough situation," he said. "You know, when you drop your kids off at activities today -- you know, it's not a babysitting service anymore. You really have to make sure you're there. Make sure you observe and make sure your children are never, ever left alone in a one-on-one situation with any coach or any manager or anybody at all."

Clohessy said sexual abuse can occur with even the most lovable of people. He said, "Sadly, abuse can go on for years with even one victim. ... We have to remember child predators are cunning, shrewd, manipulative, but also very warm, outgoing. They are lovable people, because if they weren't, no kid would want to be with them and no parent would trust them."

And referring to the school, Clohessy said, "Every institution has a temptation to try to police itself. And that's just wrong, inappropriate; it can't be done."

Comments