Penn State scandal sheds light on local abuse

The Penn State sanctions released on Monday are refocusing attention on child abuse and shedding light on a similar case of abuse closer to home.

Dan Leonard, 54, lives in Manlius and was sexually abused by a football coach in Pittsburgh from ages 11 to 13. He did not tell anyone â?? including his wife â?? about the abuse for 25 years, and understands why other victims stay quiet.

â??Itâ??s a crime of silence,â?? Leonard said. â??And the pedophiles know this. They know that youâ??re not going to talk about it. Thatâ??s what they count on.â??

Randi Bregman, Executive Director of Vera House, understands why victims remain silent. â??I think people have the fear - and sometimes the real-life experience - that if they tell someone, or if theyâ??ve told someone, they wonâ??t be believed,â?? said Bregman. â??The abuser will be protected, and they will feel further shame.â??

Based on his personal experiences, Leonard believes universities like Penn State should focus on what truly matters the most. â??Stop thinking about the statue and football games and start thinking about those children that are young men who now deserve some justice,â?? said Leonard.

On Monday, the NCAA hit the Penn State University football team with several sanctions: a four-year ban from all post-season and bowl games, reduction in annual scholarships from 25 to 15 for four years, a $60 million fine, a five-year probation on the football program, and the wiping of all team wins from 1998 to 2011.