child sex abuse

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse and seven district attorneys announced a new agreement on handling of sexual abuse cases Wednesday. The memorandum of understanding requires the diocese to report all abuse claims directly to the appropriate DA, whether they involve current or former clergy. Onondaga District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick introduced the agreement.

“There is no potential offender who is presenting any danger to any child in central New York,” he said.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Victims of past sexual abuse by Catholic priests in central New York are calling for justice as Pope Francis makes his visit to America. But the victims are limited in what they can do by New York State law.

The number of children from Onondaga County who go through the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse is holding steady. Officials say getting the word out about these children who are sexually abused is key to getting that number down.

About 700 kids used the services of McMahon Ryan last year, and most of them knew their abusers, says Executive Director Linda Cleary.

"Almost 45 percent of the children we’ve seen were abused by a parent," Cleary said. "And then another almost 40 percent were abused by someone they know or love.”

Two survivors of child sexual abuse are urging central New Yorkers to take part in a program that aims to prevent abuse, by arming bystanders with information.

Dan Leonard’s story of child abuse goes back to when he was 11 years old and a football coach began abusing him. And Leonard says he wasn't the only victim.

“He abused hundreds of kids over the years. Anyone attached to that football program knew what was going on or should have suspected it.  Nobody, all those years, all those kids, nobody said anything,” Leonard said.