York gathers to form child sexual assault awareness campaign

Seacoast Online

By Deborah McDermott

YORK, Maine – Jean Browne had been sexually abused at 5, and as a teenager, was a victim of date rape. “I’ve walked the path, so hopefully I can share my story with kids and help them,” she said.

Dennis O’Connor was abused by his parish priest when he was a kid, and his disclosure ultimately led to the priest’s prosecution. “We need to figure out how keep these people away from kids,” he said.

Heather Brower was 11 years old when she was sexually abused. Now the mother of an 11 year old girl, “I want to know what I can do to keep her safe.”

These York residents were among a group of about 30 people who came to the York Library Friday afternoon to become involved in a local campaign to raise awareness of child sexual abuse.

The event was organized by Dr. Jeanine Ward, an emergency room physician at York Hospital; resident Kara DioGuardi, a music producer, songwriter and former “American Idol” judge; and York Police Officer Jamie Rooney – all of whom are comfortable now sharing their own child sexual abuse stories. But they recognize that many people are not, and many more do not want to hear about it.

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