Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rally Decries Sexual Abuse 'Epidemic'; Innocence Tour Says Too Many Children Are Being Victimized

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rally Decries Sexual Abuse 'Epidemic'; Innocence Tour Says Too Many Children Are Being Victimized

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

The event was billed as a fact-finding visit to Jacksonville by Connie Lee, founder of Family and Friends Fighting Against Sexual Assault, who brought her "Holocaust of Innocence Tour, Research and Documentary Project" to a Baymeadows church Saturday.

But what actually happened was something of a rally by people angry about a problem they think has become out of control. Kaye Smith, a Jacksonville sexual abuse counselor, called it "an epidemic of adults who were sexually abused as children."

"I am so upset about people's reaction to sexual abuse," said Smith, founder of ReClaim Global, which sponsored the event. "They don't want to hear about it."

America's most notorious pedophile, Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, was mentioned only briefly during the two-hour gathering because the primary focus was on the victimization of girls, not boys.

Lee told an audience of about 300 people that nationally one in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused. Smith, whose group works with adult women who were abused as children, said she thinks those statistics actually underestimate the problem.

Smith said she had been victimized sexually by three men growing up. Robin Quackenbush, founder of Thrivers Unite, told an even more dramatic story of being bred by her mother for use as part of a sex ring organized by her stepfather, a police officer. She said she was raped for the first time on the day she started kindergarten after being auctioned by her stepfather. She was raped by strangers who had paid for her until, at 12 years old, she managed to get away.

That was luck, she said. "Most of the girls knew they were going to die by the age of 12," she said.

Lee said she started her organization and launched her fact-finding tour after growing frustrated with a justice system that treated accusations of sexual abuse of children as a "he said, she said thing. …

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