Alleged sexual abuse victim: When others come forward, healing begins

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (13WHAM) - Peter Saracino says he was just eight years old when he was sexually abused by a priest.

Saracino didn't want to share the name of the priest, but he says the priest was visiting from out-of-state when it happened.

58 years later, Saracino says he vividly remembers having his trust broken.

"A lot of things are taken from you, your innocence, your voice, your faith, your ability to trust," said Saracino, now 66.

Now living in Geneva, Saracino says he spends a lot of his time advocating for other victims of sexual abuse by clergy members.

"It's like gaining a part of yourself back," said Saracino. "It takes an enormous amount of encourage, but it's worth it."

He felt a sigh of relief as 17 fellow alleged victims of sexual abuse by clergy members stepped forward Tuesday in Rochester, publicly accusing the priests they say abused them as children.

"When you see people mustering the courage to come forward, you really realize you're not alone," said Saracino. "It's heartening to see people come forward and say, 'This is not right, this has got to stop.'"

He says many still don't want to believe people have been abused by clergy members.

But he's hopeful if enough victims share their stories, the abuse will stop.

"If you can save this from happening to one little boy or girl, it's a life well lived," he said.

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