CVC Victims’ Rights Speaker Series
On April 26, 2018 beginning at 6:30pm in the Garden Atrium at the Ambassador Center, Crime Victim Center of Erie County will host our annual Victims’ Rights speaker series featuring Thomas Williams and Erin Merryn as the keynote speaker.
Featured Speaker: Thomas Williams
In 2011, eight-year-old Thomas Williams was forced by his 13-year-old half-brother to perform oral sex after watching porn on a PSP (a handheld gaming system). Thomas was frightened and wanted to tell, but his half-brother threated to kill him if he did. Later, his half-brother raped him and eventually his two female cousins. He forced them to perform sex acts together mimicking the pornographic videos he made them watch. This abuse continued for nearly two years before Thomas found the courage to disclose to a friend at school during Drama Club. As with many victims that disclose, he was not believed. When Thomas’s father was told of the abuse he didn’t believe Thomas, yet called his mother. It was with her persistence that his father take Thomas to the police that the floodgates opened. Thomas’ half-brother admitted everything to the police and is now in a stepdown facility. Thomas and his mother are traveling across Pennsylvania to share his story, how his case progressed, changes in Mandated Reporting as well as changes in the standards for caregivers, and lastly how Thomas is moving forward as a survivor. Thomas’s goal is to share his story to help other children speak up before incest or abuse turns to rape.
Keynote Speaker: Erin Merryn
Childhood sexual abuse survivor turned author, speaker, child advocate and activist, Erin Merryn is the founder and president of Erin’s Law.
A survivor of rape by a friend’s uncle, from age 6-8; and incest by an older cousin, from age 11-13 (without her parents’ knowledge), Erin is now on a mission to persuade all 50 states to pass Erin’s Law, which mandates that all public schools use age-appropriate curricula to teach students how to report anyone who touches or attempts to touch their private parts.
Erin has dedicated her life to protecting our nation’s children. She was honored for her efforts in 2012 as one of Glamour Magazine’s 2012 Women of the Year. In 2014, People magazine named her one of fifteen women changing the world along with Oprah and Hillary Clinton.
In April, 2010, Illinois State Senator Tim Bivins agreed to meet with Erin. He became the first state legislator to sponsor “Erin’s Law.” Since that first meeting, Erin has met with dozens of state legislators, testified numerous times in front of State Senate and House committees, served on several committees to draft bills and implement new laws, plus speaks regularly to schools, agencies, conferences and media nationwide.
Every six minutes a child is sexually abused in the U.S. One in every 4 girls and 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before the turn 18—over 90% by a family member or friend. But only 1 in every 10 sexually abused children ever tells anyone about it.
Children must be taught to tell a trusted adult if anyone touches their private parts.