Monthly Archives: October 2012

Famous sports figure shares his story of childhood sexual abuse

There are a countless number of sexual assault myths, which we, at Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services, work towards eliminating every day.  A few of the myths we often hear are “it doesn’t happen to boys, or men,” and “that person doesn’t ‘look’ like a rapist, ” or “s/he is so well-known in this community; therefore, s/he couldn’t be a child molester.”  (If you’re thinking, “wait!  You forgot about this myth, and that myth…!”  Don’t worry, we will address more myths in a future entries).

In a recent article from The Chicago Tribune, Boxing legend, Sugar Ray Leonard, tells his story of being sexually abused when he was younger by his coaches.  This article sheds light on the fact that boys and men can be victims of sexual assault, and also, that coaches (teachers, doctors, pastors, family members, etc, etc, etc) can be the perpetrators.  Leonard courageously stated “I’m going to be the poster child. I don’t care,” to an applause filled audience at Penn State.

Thank you, Sugar Ray Leonard!  You are an inspiration to so many.


From The Chicago Tribune:

Sugar Ray Leonard:  I was a child sex abuse victim

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard recounted his own sexual abuse by coaches he trusted, telling a Penn State audience Monday he hoped to encourage other victims to report abuse to police.

Leonard spoke at a sold-out conference on child sex abuse hosted by Penn State weeks after former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to prison for 30 to 60 years for sexually assaulting 10 boys he befriended through his charity for at-risk youth.

Leonard, 56, who retired after winning world boxing titles in five different weight classes, said as a youth he was sexually assaulted by men he trusted as his boxing coaches.

“Trust is a very sacred thing, especially for young people, kids, or a young boxer, so I trusted these people, these individuals who impacted my life,” said Leonard said. “They told me everything I wanted to hear, and more.”

The former champion said he used drugs and alcohol to “numb” his shame of being a victim of child sexual abuse.

“I beat myself up for years,” said Leonard as the two-day conference got underway with Hurricane Sandy quickly approaching Pennsylvania.

Now Leonard said he wants to step into the spotlight as a leader in the fight against child sex abuse in the hopes it will help other victims find the courage to report crimes to police.

“I’m going to be the poster child. I don’t care,” Leonard said to applause.

“I will be that leader. I will stand right there and say, ‘Yes, something must be done now. Not later, now,’” Leonard said.

Without mentioning Sandusky by name, Penn State President Rodney Erickson told the audience in opening remarks that he hoped the silver lining of the abuse scandal is that more victims will come forward rather than keep the secret to themselves.

“I hope that even more survivors will take their first steps towards recovery with the confidence that their family, friends and community will believe and support them,” Erickson said.

Erickson took office after Penn State’s president, Graham Spanier, and legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who has since died, were fired in the wake of Sandusky’s arrest last November. An independent report by former FBI chief Louis Freeh concluded that four former university officials – Spanier, Paterno, vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley – were alerted to Sandusky’s abuse but did nothing to stop it or report it to authorities.

Since Sandusky’s sentencing, The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, or RAINN, says the volume of calls to its sexual assault hotline has increased 47 percent.



October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Have you seen this video yet?

After receiving an e-mail where she was bullied about her weight, Anchorwoman, Jennifer Livingston, gives an amazing response to her bully via YouTube.  She also voices some inspiring words to the countless people who are bullied every single day, which includes: “do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies.”

If you, or someone you know is being bullied – at school, on the Internet, anywhere – please speak up.  You do not deserve to be treated badly, and there are people who want to support you.  If you do not feel safe, or comfortable confiding in someone you know, you can always call one of our advocates at 1-800-871-7741.  You are not alone.


The Differences Between Sexual Violence & Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In a recent article in Franklin County’s Daily Bulldog, SAVES Coordinator, Nick Citriglia, explained the differences between sexual violence and domestic violence.


From The Daily Bulldog:

Franklin County Domestic Violence Task Force

By Nick Citriglia

There are undeniable similarities between sexual violence and domestic violence, and often what the media displays about both creates a large gray area that might confuse some people.

Franklin County locals may ask themselves why we have a sexual assault crisis center and a domestic violence when they deal with “the same things.” While there are things that both sexual and domestic violence have in common, there are many that are different. This article will talk about how both are in need of awareness and support, and how both SAVES and Safe Voices work together to help victims and survivors and raise awareness of both issues.

Eighty-four percent of sexual violence is committed by someone that the victim knows, while domestic violence, by its definition, is an act always committed by someone that the victim knows. Sexual violence can be, and often is, a part of domestic violence, whereas domestic violence is less often a part of sexual violence. Domestic violence is most often a pattern of abuse that can be physical, emotional, mental and sexual, while sexual assault is more often a unique attack using sex as the weapon. (Of course, there is also sexual abuse that is a pattern of abuse committed over and over again.)

One in 3 females and 1 in 6 males will be victims of sexual violence, and 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Victims of domestic violence have certain challenges and needs, and victims of sexual violence may have different challenges and needs.

In Maine, we are fortunate to have two systems of response that serve the unique needs of victims of sexual assault and victims of domestic violence. SAVES’ working relationship with Safe Voices and the Franklin County Domestic Violence Task Force is a cooperative one. Often, people are unaware of the specific services that SAVES provides, such as advocacy in hospitals and throughout any legal matters, education about sexual violence awareness and prevention, and a Sexual Assault Response Team. Safe Voices has many of the same services related to domestic violence specifically, but also focuses on the more immediate safety needs of victims, which can be met through their shelter in Lewiston

At both SAVES and Safe Voices we know how important and beneficial it is to not only support one another, but to promote one another’s services to the Franklin County population. We work in tandem when we can and always make sure to refer clients to the other agency when it is appropriate and beneficial. Both agencies believe the client comes first and foremost.


Jerry Sandusky Sentenced 30 – 60 Years in Prison

Today, October 9, 2012, Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State assistant football coach, was sentenced 30 – 60 years in prison on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.  “Child sexual abuse is the term used to describe sexual violence against children, particularly when it is ongoing and repetitive.  Sexual violence against children includes any sexual activity perpetrated against a child by threat, force, intimidation, or manipulation.  The sexual violence may be perpetrated by a family member or another person known to the child, by a casual acquaintance, by a stranger, or by other children who are older or otherwise more powerful.” (Help In Healing, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault).

There will be a lot of media coverage today about the Sandusky case.  If you find yourself being triggered by this information, please practice self-care, and you can always call one of our advocates if you need to talk:  1-800-871-7741.  Also, if you, or someone you know is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, never, ever forget – it was not your fault.


From The New York Times:

Sandusky Gets 30 t0 60 Years for Sexual Abuse

BELLEFONTE, Pa. —   Jerry Sandusky stood in court Tuesday in his current uniform, the bright red jumpsuit of the Centre County jail. No longer was he in his Penn State coaching gear, nor in the suit and tie he wore at his trial in June. He was, in a sense, as powerless before his victims as they had once been before him. So he sat, forced to listen.

“We both know exactly what happened,” said one of three victims who stood and spoke.

Another said: “I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body, something that will never be erased from my memory. Jerry has harmed children, of which I am one of them.”

“There is no punishment sufficient for you,” the mother of another victim wrote in a statement read by the lead prosecutor.

Another victim wrote: “There is no remorse. There is no acknowledgment of regret, only evil.”

The Penn State sexual abuse scandal does not have many chapters left. The former football coach Joe Paterno is dead, his name tainted by a formal investigative finding that he failed to respond to warnings of Mr. Sandusky’s crimes, even chose to cover them up. The university’s president, Graham B. Spanier, has been dismissed. The university’s football program has been sanctioned. The victims are seeking money, and Penn State has acknowledged it will have to pay.

But there was the matter of setting Mr. Sandusky’s term in prison for 45 counts of abuse, and Judge John M. Cleland addressed that business with emphatic scorn. He sentenced Mr. Sandusky to 30 to 60 years.

“I’m not going to sentence you to centuries,” Judge Cleland said to Sandusky. “It makes no sense for a 68-year-old man. This sentence will put you in prison for the rest of your life.”

Judge Cleland added that the case, which shook Penn State and called into question the role of major college sports on campus, was, in the end, “a story of betrayal.”

“You abused the trust of those who trusted you,” he said.

Mr. Sandusky entered the courtroom just before 9 a.m., looking thinner than he had at his trial. He took his seat and turned, smiled and waved to his wife, Dottie. He soon gave a rambling, 15-minute statement in court, in which he professed his innocence, as he had in a recorded statement broadcast on a Penn State radio station Monday night.

“I did not do these alleged disgusting acts,” he said Tuesday.

Mr. Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys, all from disadvantaged homes. Mr. Sandusky used his connections to the Penn State football program, as well as his own charity for disadvantaged youths, the Second Mile, to identify potential victims, get close to them and then sexually violate them.

Mr. Sandusky’s remarks Tuesday at times resembled a pregame motivational speech, perhaps reflecting his years as a widely admired defensive assistant for Mr. Paterno. Casting himself in the role of an underdog fighting against a conspiracy to find him guilty, Mr. Sandusky mentioned that “Seabiscuit” was one of his favorite movies. He read aloud a letter from a boy who described Mr. Sandusky as a savior for his life and called him Touchdown Jerry. And he emphasized how he brought joy to children through activities like water balloon fights.

He also painted a picture of his life in prison. He used his small cell, with four concrete-block walls, as a metaphor. On his 46th wedding anniversary, he said, he rolled over in bed expecting his wife to be there. Instead, he literally hit the wall.

He became emotional when discussing how he had not been able to see his family. And when he declared that he and his family would continue to smile despite his conviction and sentencing “because that’s who we are,” his voice caught.

Others were not so moved.

“His statement today was a masterpiece in banal self-delusion, completely untethered from reality and without any acceptance of responsibility,” said Joseph E. McGettigan III, the lead prosecutor. “It was entirely self-focused, as if he, him, were the victim. It was, in short, ridiculous.”

Judge Cleland deemed Mr. Sandusky’s statement “unbelievable.”

Mr. Sandusky’s crimes have exacted a tremendous toll on Penn State. Within days after the indictment of Mr. Sandusky was made public in November 2011, Mr. Paterno, the football team’s longtime head coach and a patriarchal figure at the university, was fired. He had been alerted to at least one of Mr. Sandusky’s attacks on a boy. Two and a half months later, Mr. Paterno died of cancer at 85.

Meanwhile, the Penn State community found itself confronting the idea that it had placed the interests of its football team above concern for children at risk.

A seven-month investigation conducted by Louis J. Freeh, a former director of the F.B.I., determined that Penn State’s leaders — most prominently Mr. Spanier, Mr. Paterno, the former university vice president Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley — had disregarded the welfare of Sandusky’s victims.

Four of Sandusky’s victims are suing the university, as is Mike McQueary, a former assistant who testified to seeing what he thought was Mr. Sandusky raping a boy in a shower on Penn State’s campus in 2001. Mr. McQueary claims the university has mistreated him since Mr. Sandusky’s actions became public.

Mr. Curley, who is on leave, and Mr. Schultz, a former senior vice president, are scheduled to stand trial in January on charges of perjury and failing to report child sexual abuse, relating to the attack Mr. McQueary reported in 2001.

Mr. Sandusky’s lawyers said they would appeal his case, arguing most strenuously that they were not given enough time to prepare his defense before the trial.

One of them was asked Tuesday if Mr. Sandusky could have pleaded guilty for a lesser sentence.

“Jerry Sandusky has always maintained his innocence,” the lawyer Joseph Amendola said. “There could have been discussions, there might have been some deal that could have been worked out, but Jerry Sandusky wanted none of it.”