GREAT BARRINGTON -- A candlelight vigil in support of the women who allege they were abused by a school counselor a decade ago has been scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sunday night in front of the Mason Library.
Organizer Gabrielle Senza said the vigil is open to anyone and is technically a vigil in support of all sexual abuse victims in the community. Senza is a former sexual abuse victim herself.
Senza, an artist, musician and activist, established an abuse support group in town two years ago.
Last week, Scott M. Muir, 39, was acquitted on 19 charges of sexual abuse in connection with alleged assaults on five girls between 8-10 a decade ago at the Stockbridge Plain and later the Muddy Brook Elementary Schools.
Muir was counselor at the school during that span. All five girls, now young women, testified to some degree of inappropriate conduct on Muir's part.
The "not guilty" verdicts generated considerable frustration within the South Berkshire community.
Senza set up a Facebook page, "We Believe You" that has generated more than 430 "likes" in just a few days.
"We just wanted to show our support for these young women," said Senza, while acknowledging that Muir was acquitted last week in a court of law.
According to www.d2l.com, a website that provides information about sexual abuse and prevention, about one in 10 children in the U.S. will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. A total of 70 percent of all the reported sexual abuses in the U.S. are against children.
However, according to the website, the number of identified incidents of child sexual abuse has decreased more than 47 percent from 1993 to 2006. At this point, there is no clear indication of a cause, the website said, however it is believed that only about 38 percent of abuse victims disclose that fact.
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