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Sexual abuse advocates: "Never call alleged victims liars"

By GARY LIBERATORE

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The YWCA of the Mohawk Valley is the only state certified organization in our area that deals with victims of sexual abuse.

There are 24 hour sexual abuse hotlines set up, as well as numerous in-house programs to help those victims that do come forward.

Executive Director Natalie Brown says she was disturbed when, ten days ago, Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim called the alleged sexual abuse victims of Birnie Fine that came forward, liars.

Now that a phone conversation that had been recorded in 2002 between one of those alleged victims and Fine's wife has been released, she's glad to see Boeheim finally turn his attention to the alleged victims.

Brown says Boeheim's initial words ten days ago may have kept other victims of sexual abuse from coming forward.

"I think anytime you would tell a child you don't believe you, it keeps people from coming forward...so I think it's extremely dangerous to call people liars unless you have proof that they are actually lying," Brown said.

On Sunday, after a third alleged victim came forward, as well as that phone conversation being released, Boeheim completely changed his position of his support for his longtime coach and turned his attention to the alleged victims.

Here is what Boeheim had to say Sunday night:

"What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found." Boeheim said, "I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."

Natalie Brown says she hopes the high profile cases, like those at Syracuse University and Penn State will help victims out there come forward.

The YWCA of the Mohawk Valley Sexual Abuse Hotlines are open 24 hours a day.

In Oneida County, the number to call is 315-797-7740 and in Herkimer County, the number is 315-866-4120.

If you live in a neighboring county and need help, you can call either of those numbers and you will be put in with the appropriate person.

All calls are kept confidential.

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