Hundreds downtown march against sex abuse


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – About 300 men and women marched down Bay Street to the Police Memorial Building on Tuesday morning to make a statement about sexual abuse.

After years of silence, 23 people in the group came forward to present accusations against 27 sexual abusers. Carrying signs reading "No More Silent Crimes, Silent Children," "I Told on You" and "Stop Sexual Abuse," the supporters are part of ReClaim Global.

The march was led by the group's founder, Dr. Kaye Smith, who is trying to bring a crime usually in the shadows out in the public.

IMAGES: Marching against sex abuse | VIDEO: Marchers take to streets

"We have broken the cycle of silence today, and now we must work hard to break the silence of our children," Smith said.

Ann Dugger, of the Justice Coalition, who participated in the march, said if victims didn't stay silent, crimes like Jarred Harrell's killing of 7-year-old Somer Thompson might be prevented.

"It is very important when a child says something is happening, is not right, that someone lends an ear and listens to them and does something about it," Dugger said.

Other advocates also told their stories.

"She was broken on the inside from that abuse, and she never had the confidence to do anything about it," Kitty Rodger said of her sister, who was sexually abused as a child.

There weren't just women were in the crowd. Men were also there in support.

"The detriment that is does to their life after the crime has been committed, that's the reason why," supporter Cortez Williams said.

Reclaim Global hopes the public action it took will encourage other victims to come forward and not stay silent any longer.

"So they can have a better life, so they can be sorry, so they can be healed on the inside," Rodgers said.
The group also hopes if enough people ban together that it can change laws, such as making a mother accountable if a father is the person sexually abusing a child and she knew it was happening.