Sarah’s Story


McMahon/Ryan had a youth come through the center who was an identified victim in a rather involved sex abuse/child pornography case. We will call her Sarah.* Sarah was part of an investigation involving New York State Police and Homeland Security.

When she was brought into the center, she was immediately connected with an advocate and offered both medical and therapy services. Of which, she utilized both. Sarah connected with her therapist and saw her weekly. She and her advocate attended appointments together with the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office before the decision to go forward with Federal prosecution was made. Following that, she and her advocate attended meetings with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sarah was in regular therapy sessions and enrolled in college classes while working full-time - she was acting as if she had it all together when in reality, she was all but keeping it together. Sarah’s advocate and therapist would connect regularly to make sure the youth was supported to the best of their abilities. Soon, they started to share concerns as it was looking like Sarah would need to testify in Federal Court against her abuser at a trial. Though it had been years since the abuse happened, the youth was forced to relive this terrifying part of her life during trial preparation and while in court - all in front of her abuser.

This process triggered a completely new level of fear and anxiety within Sarah. Again, the advocate and therapist would speak regularly to make sure Sarah was supported and grounded with regards to everything going on to make sure she felt cared about, as Sarah did not have any strong family connections.

She made it through testifying. She made it through the trial in its entirety. She made it through the 45-minute wait…the jury had decided on a verdict. She sobbed, as the jury found her abuser guilty on all counts. A couple of months later, she also made it through her abuser’s sentencing, where the judge delivered the maximum penalty of 360 years in Federal prison.

While she is still in therapy and dealing with the after-effects of living through abuse and then reliving through prosecution; she still leads a successful life. She finished her Bachelor’s degree and is currently enrolling in law school, while working full-time and supervising a program where she works. She is the epitome of strength and grace, as well as, the good that can come from our center. Without the supports offered to her when she walked through our doors, Sarah may not have had the courage or the strength to face her abuser in court.

*Sarah’s name and photo have been changed to protect her identity.


We partner with McMahon/Ryan to help fund their victim identification, aftercare, and outreach services to at-risk youth in greater Syracuse, NY area, so that women like Sarah can see justice prevail. Learn more about the work of McMahon/Ryan here.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.30.33 pm.png