Fentress victim helps others cope with sex abuse pain (link good for week of 10/19)
Tuesday, October 19, 2004Fentress victim helps others cope with sex abuse pain
By Larry Fisher-HertzPoughkeepsie Journal
Curtis St. John knows the shame of being sexually abused. It happened to him when he was 10 years old when a friend of the family, a Poughkeepsie school teacher named Albert Fentress, abused St. John in spring 1979 -- weeks before Fentress killed and cannibalized a Town of Poughkeepsie teenager.
It took St. John 23 years before he spoke publicly about what Fentress had done to him. He came forward because a hearing was being conducted in Suffolk County to determine whether Fentress should be released from a mental hospital there. St. John's testimony helped convince a judge to keep Fentress confined.
This week, St. John will return to Poughkeepsie to urge other victims of sexual abuse, especially male victims, to talk about what happened to them.
St. John serves on a panel of sex abuse victims who are helping experts in the field find better ways to deal with the victims of sex abuse and with the offenders themselves. That effort will continue Thursday night when Dutchess County Legislator Robert Rolison hosts a forum on the subject at Spackenkill High School. The meeting will start at 7 p.m.
St. John said he hoped by being there, he could encourage victims to confront what happened to them. He said his experience in that Suffolk County courtroom had convinced him the pain of keeping his secret was much greater than the pain of sharing it.
''My message to sex abuse victims is simple,'' he said. ''You are not alone.''