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Take disclosures of sexual abuse seriously, victim says

August 18, 2014 · 

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Aaron Fisher, identified as Victim 1 in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, speaks Aug. 14, 2014, in Sioux Falls, S.D., about his abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky. (Photo: Jay Pickthorn, (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader)

Aaron Fisher, identified as Victim 1 in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, speaks Aug. 14, 2014, in Sioux Falls, S.D., about his abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky.
(Photo: Jay Pickthorn, (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader)

 

John Hult, (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader12:19 p.m. EDT August 15, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — People who hear disclosures of sexual abuse have an obligation to take the allegations seriously, said a victim of the disgraced former Penn State assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky.

The remarks from Aaron Fisher, known as Victim 1 in the Sandusky indictment, closed out a three-day conference on human trafficking and violent crime here. Fisher, who wrote a book two years ago with his mother and his psychologist, said children need to know that the perpetrators of sexual violence will not be protected.

“It’s happening in big numbers, everywhere,” said Fisher, now 20. “And the monsters who are doing this get away with it because kids are afraid to tell.”

Fisher first told his principal in 2008 about the repeated sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Sandusky, but the coach wasn’t charged until 2011.

OCTOBER: Pennsylvania reviewing original Sandusky allegation
OCTOBER 2012: Sandusky’s Victim 1 speaks out for first time

By 2008, Sandusky for months had been pulling Fisher out of history class at Central Mountain High School in Mill Hall, Pa., and taking him out for sexual encounters.

The two met in 2004, when Fisher was 11, at The Second Mile, a charity for boys that Sandusky started.

“I wasn’t the first person Sandusky did this to,” Fisher said. “I was just the first person who had the support system and the will to beat him.”

His mother said Central Mountain was in Sandusky’s corner. When her son told her he didn’t want to leave school with Sandusky any longer, she called the school and questioned them about it.

She was informed that she had nothing to worry about, that Sandusky had a “heart of gold.”

“I was told, ‘This is Jerry. This is normal. He pulls all kinds of kids out of school,’ ” said Dawn Hennessy, Fisher’s mother.

When her son finally told the principal, they called Hennessy but pulled the phone from her hand after she arrived and she tried to call police.

“They said, ‘Everybody’s really upset right now. You should go home and think about this,’ ” Hennessy said.

She wouldn’t let up though. She got in touch with a psychologist, Michael Gillum. The three started the process of working to persuade authorities that Sandusky had abused not only Fisher but several other children.

Police and prosecutors soon were on their side, Gillum said. But Sandusky’s cult of personality in State College, Pa., and his clout with Pennsylvania elected officials stalled the prosecution.

Bringing the case to trial took more time than it might have with a different perpetrator, Gillum said. But the basic power relationship in cases of child sexual abuse is remarkably similar.

“Most perpetrators have more power than their victim,” Gillum said.

Ultimately, Sandusky was charged with 48 criminal charges related to the abuse of several young boys. He was found guilty and sentenced Oct. 9, 2012, to 30 to 60 years in prison.

Hennessy told the advocates, police and health care workers attending the conference that they must work on the side of the victims. She, her son and Gillum said children must be taught about boundaries and taught to tell an adult they trust if those boundaries are violated.

Adults must stay on the side of the children, Hennessy said.

“If a child comes to you, don’t ever, ever discourage them from talking,” Gillum said. “It devastates them.”

 

 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/15/sexual-abuse-victim-reporting/14108371/

 

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