GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – Matthew Sandusky, the adopted son of convicted sex offender Jerry Sandusky, detailed his own abuse and warned against the dangers of child sex abuse during an event Thursday night at Stockton University.
Matthew Sandusky is a survivor of child physical and sexual abuse, not only by his adoptive father, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, but also his biological family, he said.
Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 charges of child sex abuse in 2012 and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
During the event, Matthew Sandusky recounted his earliest memory, being burned with a cigarette by his biological father at the age of 3.
“Nobody was acting as if it was wrong,” Sandusky said of the physical and emotional abuse from his biological father, uncles and grandfather.
When he reached school age, Sandusky was recommended to become a part of the Second Mile Foundation, a foundation for underprivileged children in western Pennsylvania. It was there that he met Jerry Sandusky, who later adopted him.
In 2012, during the Sandusky trial, Matthew Sandusky watched a friend take the stand and recognized the testimony matched his own childhood.
“I didn’t know he and the others were abused. I thought I was the only one,” Sandusky told the Stockton crowd.
After coming forward, Sandusky was interviewed in 2014 by Oprah Winfrey about his abuse and appeared in the two documentaries, “Happy Valley” and “Invisible Scars.”
He and his wife started the Peaceful Hearts Foundation to provide advocacy and education for adults and children about predators and sexual abuse.
During a question-and-answer portion of the event, Sandusky was asked about feelings of anger, how to recognize the signs of an adult who may be abusing a child and about his adopted brother, Jeffrey Sandusky, who was charged with sexual assault of two teenage girls.
“I don’t really have anything to say about Jeff,” Sandusky said. “I hope he is prosecuted and he is thrown in jail for as long as the law allows.”
Sedona Sub, a sophomore majoring in psychology, was inspired by Sandusky’s presentation and was interested in working with his Peaceful Hearts Foundation.
“It sparked something in my mind of what I would like to do in the future,” Sedona said.
“The event was for the community,” said Cheryl Kaus, dean of the school of Social and Behavioral Sciences who helped organize the event. “Matthew is a phenomenal person and to experience what he has, he speaks from his heart.”
Sandusky also will give a keynote speech at the Conference on the Victimization of Children set for Friday at Stockton.