Alleged victim of former Onondaga County Family Court judge speaks out

Ellen Cantwell Warner's full statement

Former Onondaga County Family Court judge Bryan R. Hedges is accused of sexually abusing his 5-year-old deaf niece 40 years ago.

Ellen Cantwell Warner, the suspected victim in this case, spoke out at Vera House in Syracuse Thursday.

"An experience like this would be difficult for any child growing up, but it is especially difficult for a deaf child, whose communication is limited. He preyed on my deafness," says Warner. "40 years of trauma have finally come to an end. I am at peace. The truth has set me free. I feel like a butterfly that has finally emerged."

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded that the alleged child sex incident predated his 27 years as an Onondaga County Family Court Judge. But that the conduct constitutes misconduct which disqualifies Hedges from ever again being a judge. Speaking for the Commission on Judicial Conduct Robert Tembeckjian told reporters, "This conduct was so abhorrent, it was so reprehensible that removal from office was called for because it called into question his fitness to be a judge."

Warner says was she was inspired by the victims at Penn State and Syracuse University who came forward.

"My mission now is to help sex abuse victims find their voices to speak out. They donâ??t need to suffer the emotions and trauma alone anymore," says Warners.

In the Commission report Warner talks about living with the image of the sexual act for the last forty years. She said she cannot get rid of the memories and they continue to traumatize her and have hindered her sex life with her husband.

Hedges issued a written statement on Wednesday, denying the allegations.

"I am devastated by the Commissionâ??s actions. The allegations are untrue. The administrative process is deficient in terms of being a fair fact finding procedure. I hope the Court of Appeals will reverse," says Hedges.

According to the commission, the incident occurred when Hedges was 25 and involved his then 5-year-old deaf niece. It became known this year and they gave differing accounts.

Read the media release.

Read the court documents.