Hear from one of the 76 sexual abuse victims included in the Syracuse Diocese's compensation program
By Andrew Donovan
February 15, 2018
OSWEGO (WSYR-TV) - Now that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has announced its compensation program for victims of clergy sexual abuse, the 76 people who've previously filed claims will be getting letters with instructions.
That includes 41-year-old George O'Neil, who is still considering whether or not he'll take part in the program.
"Father Casey would take me in various places over 100 times. He would take advantage of me, and take advantage of our situation alone together. Sometimes, in front of people. He violated me in ways that no child should every be violated. It's hard to talk about. It really is."
O'Neil, as a fifth and sixth grader, claims he was sexually abused at St. Paul's Church in Oswego by Father Daniel Casey.
On Thursday, O'Neil got the closest to the front door of the church as he's been in 30 years.
"Today, standing in front of the church, shows how far I've come in my healing that I'm able to come back here and speak about this abuse and wrongs that were done - not only Father Casey, but the rest of the priests in the Syracuse Diocese."
O'Neil says he's still processing whether or not this new apology and offer from the Syracuse Diocese is enough, but he says, in his opinion, this is the most significant step they've ever made.
He says, "This is actually saying 'hey, we see you, we hear you, we're sorry.' This is a step in that direction. This is a huge baby step from where they were to today."
Attorney Jordan Merson represents O'Neil and at least four other of the 76 victims in Central New York. He's going to consult with clients before committing to the program.
Merson tells NewsChannel 9:
"For the first time in a long time, church sex abuse victims have an opportunity that they may never have again to get justice. If you have any questions about the program, ask a lawyer. Victims should know their rights before making a decision about what to do."
Merson hopes nobody throws out the paperwork before thoughtful consideration.