Newsmaker of the decade: Survivors of sexual abuse – brave, loud and saving others

Patriot News

Dec. 31, 2019

By Janet Pickel

They’re the survivors.

More than anyone else, victims of sexual abuse have changed the world over the last decade.

When a teenaged Aaron Fisher told adults that he was being sexually abused by a well-respected well-known man, he wasn’t consistently believed.

That man, retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of sexually abusing boys he’d met through a children’s charity he’d started. Penn State has paid out more than $110 million to Sandusky’s victims.

An 18-month grand jury investigation of six of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses uncovered decades-long abuse of children by more than 300 clergy members. Similar investigations are taking place in at least 20 other states. The Harrisburg Diocese alone has paid out $12 million to 106 victims since that report was released.

Women have been accusing actor-comedian Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing them for decades. They’d been called gold diggers or told they misunderstood romantic situations. Cosby, accused by 60 women, was convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting one.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Nick Miccarelli decided not to run for re-election months after allegations surfaced that he’d sexually and physically assaulted two women. One of them was a fellow lawmaker, Rep. Tarah Toohil, his ex-girlfriend, who detailed her accusations publicly. Miccarelli denied all the accusations and was not charged.

A woman says state Sen. Daylin Leach forced her into oral sex with him in 1991, and she wasn’t the first woman to accuse him of misconduct. Leach denies he’s acted inappropriately, and he has sued both an accuser and a newspaper.

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