The Citizen's top 10 most-read stories of the week.
Crews from 16 departments respond to fire at Brutus trucking company
BRUTUS — Over a dozen fire departments worked to extinguish a structure fire Sunday afternoon at Page Trucking, located at 2768 Trombley Road in the town of Brutus.
Multiple drivers from the New York State Thruway reported the fire at around 12:40 p.m., according to Cayuga County 911. The 3.87-acre property is visible from the Thruway, located just before exit 40. According to Weedsport Fire Department Safety Officer John Clark, the structure, a large garage, was unoccupied and no injuries were reported.
Clark said crews were working to put out the fire as quickly as possible to minimize damage to surrounding structures, however the garage is a total loss. The garage was filled with oil, gasoline and other chemicals which Clark said allowed the fire to travel quickly. He said adjoining structures may be salvageable with only smoke damage.
Clark said he does not know where in the building the fire started or what caused it. He said the fire does not appear to be suspicious at this time, but it will be "some time" before a cause is know. Fire investigators were already at the scene.
Crews were still battling flames nearly two hours after the fire started.
"The fire is under control but far from out," Clark said at around 2:10 p.m.
In addition to Weedsport, crews from Auburn, Port Byron, Throop, Sennett, Cato, Aurelius, Mottville, Owasco, Montezuma, Skaneateles, Conquest, Cayuga, Flemming, Ira and Victory responded to the fire. Cayuga County Emergency Services, Jordan Ambulance and AMR Ambulance were also at the scene.
As of 3:45 p.m. Sunday, firefighters were still at the scene.
Dan Titus, one of the owners and president of Page Trucking, said due to "strong contingency planning," the fire will not have much of an impact on the business's operations.
"We appreciate the response and effort of all the first responders," Titus said. "We don't expect it to truly cease operations, more so just an inconvenience in the short term until we can get a new facility erected."
'Assassin's Creed Origins'? 'Resident Evil 7'? Top 5 games of 2017
Everyone needs a break sometimes.
When it comes to reviewing video games, mine was this year. So I only reviewed about 15, which is less than half the amount I've reviewed each year since I started doing this a decade (!) ago.
That's not to say I played fewer games in 2017. I just played more of the ones I wanted to play, not the ones I felt obligated to play. Crazy, right?
Still, if there's one review I can't duck out of writing, it's the year in games. And I did play enough of 2017's releases to confidently scrape together a list of five favorites:
Auburn man charged with attempted murder in Cayuga County stabbing
AUBURN — An Auburn man will remain in jail without bail for allegedly stabbing a man in the head in the town of Victory.
Nathan Fillingham, 29, of 88 Capital St., was arrested in August in connection with a stabbing at 458 Victory Road. At the time, the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office said Fillingham had stabbed 35-year-old Joshua Hoeffner several times in the head, hand and torso.
Hoeffner was transported to Upstate University Hospital and subsequently transferred to Crouse Hospital with serious injuries. Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said Hoeffner ended up losing sight in one eye as a result of the incident.
Fillingham was initially charged with first-degree assault, a felony, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor. However, last week, a grand jury indicted Fillingham on an additional charge: second-degree attempted murder.
On Tuesday, Fillingham pleaded not guilty to all three counts in Cayuga County Court. He was remanded to Cayuga County Jail without bail pending his next court appearance Feb. 20.
Also in court:
• An Auburn woman who was arrested in a drug bust last week has been indicted in a separate case in Cayuga County.
Sitting in a wheelchair Tuesday morning in Cayuga County Court, 44-year-old Patricia Lafler pleaded not guilty to possessing narcotics earlier this year. She was charged with two felonies and nine misdemeanors, including third-, fourth- and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia and endangering the welfare of a child.
In court, the district attorney said Lafler had been arrested for possessing narcotics in March but was later released on bail. Then, late last week, the Auburn Police Department said officers executed a search warrant at Lafler's residence at 52 Osborne St. and recovered an additional 8.8 grams of crack cocaine and over $220 in cash.
Lafler appeared in court Tuesday for an arraignment on the case from March. She is facing five additional drug-related charges for her arrest last week.
Lafler was remanded to Cayuga County Jail without bail. She is scheduled to return to court Feb. 20.
• An Auburn man was resentenced to one year in prison Tuesday for violating the terms and conditions of his probation.
Dequan Wilson, 25, of 18 Baker Ave. Apt. 3, was convicted in March 2016 of third-degree criminal sale of marijuana, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and sentenced to five years probation and six months in jail. However, in August, New York State Police said he was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
On Aug. 16, state police said Wilson was stopped on Clark Street Road in the town of Aurelius for failing to dim his lights. He was later arrested after failing multiple standard field sobriety tests and registering a blood alcohol content of .15 percent.
Wilson previously admitted to the charges, and on Tuesday, he was sentenced to one year in prison and one year post-release supervision. In addition, Wilson was ordered to pay the remaining $483 in restitution from his case in 2016.
• A Montezuma man will spend the next four months of weekends in jail for his third drunk driving conviction.
In August, 34-year-old David Decker, of 8526 Wilsey Road, was pulled over for a lane violation on State Street. Upon further investigation, police said Decker's blood alcohol content was .13 percent.
Decker ultimately pleaded guilty to two felonies — felony driving while intoxicated and first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Police said it was his third DWI since 2008.
In court Tuesday, Judge Thomas Leone sentenced Decker to five years probation with the first four months of weekends served in Cayuga County Jail. He also ordered Decker to successfully complete felony drug treatment court and have his driver license revoked for at least one year.
Decker will begin serving his weekends in jail Friday, Dec. 29. He will also have to wear a SCRAM bracelet to monitor his alcohol use, pay $3,000 in fines and have an ignition interlock device placed on any vehicle he has access to.
'They need help': Auburn health center combines primary care and addiction services
AUBURN — A downtown Auburn doctor's office is taking a new look at primary care by adding addiction medicine and treatment to its services.
East Hill Family Medical, a federally qualified health care center, opened a new space on Genesee Street for addiction medicine on the same floor of its adult medicine office on Thursday. It was financed through a $170,000 grant from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration.
At the ribbon-cutting event, local officials praised Cayuga County Coroner Adam Duckett for his work in securing the funding and creating a safe and healthy environment for those who need help with alcohol and opioid addiction. Duckett is also an addiction medicine specialist at East Hill and a family practice provider at Auburn Community Hospital.
"When you're with your primary care doctor, you're with them forever," Duckett said. "You want to be with a primary care office that understands your history, and understands what to look for to make sure that we can help make sure that you don't relapse."
It's a different and evolving outlook on a disease so often misunderstood. Duckett said he's integrated addiction services in an informal way through his practice during the last five years at East Hill, but he hopes the new space will help even more with longer hours, making addiction medication like Vivitrol available, and mental health counseling.
The office, which is located on the fourth floor of 144 Genesee St., has two full-time nurse practitioners and a full-time physician's assistant. Services are meant for those 18 and older. Duckett said he will be available in the office Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and depending on the response, he may open the office on Saturdays, too.
Keith Cuttler, CEO and president of East Hill, said Thursday that a few patients have already visited the new office as part of a soft opening, and he expects there to be between 100 and 120 patients a month.
"Unfortunately, I think it's something that's going to be filling quickly," he said.
Just two floors below is the recently opened office for the Heroin Epidemic Action League. East Hill has leased that space to the grassroots organization working to fight drug addiction. A short walk away, inside 12 South St. is another space opened by Nick's Ride for addiction recovery meetings and support. Nick's Ride is another grassroots organization; Duckett works with both groups.
"We want to start working with every entity so that we can to make sure people don't fall through the cracks," he said.
At Thursday's ribbon-cutting, Cayuga County Sheriff David Gould said work like what Duckett and East Hill are doing shows that the stigma around addiction is changing. Drug use is not limited to the tunnel systems in New York City or Los Angeles, he said.
"As far as investigations and arrests, we've really changed our attitude," Gould said. "Dealers are still going to be arrested. We know that. It's still illegal in our state to possess these drugs. But, we have an attitude change that people need assistance. They need help. They need therapy. They need treatment."
For now, the office is open 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Patients are encouraged to schedule an appointment, but walk-ins are welcome.
'Our own place': Couple opens restaurant at historic Wayside Inn in Elbridge
Three years ago, DeAnna Germano began leasing the kitchen at the Wayside Irish Pub in the village of Elbridge. The owner of Chef4Rent, DeAnna initially used the historic inn to cook up her catering business, but now she's started sharing the space with another seasoned chef: her husband, Mark.
This fall, the Germanos asked to expand their lease to the Wayside's restaurant, which hadn't really been used in years. While the pub had a menu, DeAnna said, the food was typically just served at the bar.
Originally from Liverpool, Mark said he's donned many different hats over the years, beginning his career as a line cook at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona nearly 15 years ago. He eventually worked his way up to sous chef at Gordon Biersch and SKY Armory and executive chef and chef de cuisine at Pomodoro, Lincklaen House and Aster's.
But, he said, he always wanted more.
"Pretty much ever since (DeAnna) and I graduated culinary school, the goal was to have our own place and be our own boss," Mark said.
So when the owners of Wayside offered to let Mark lease the restaurant this fall, the Germanos took all of three days to think it over — one month later, the couple opened Cocaire.
"We were kind of scared to pull the trigger on it ... but this opportunity came along (at Wayside) and I couldn't pass it up," Mark said.
In October, just two months after DeAnna decided to take her catering business full-time, Mark opened Cocaire at the Wayside. Irish Gaelic for "chef," he chose the name Cocaire in connection with his wife's company.
"Mark had an idea to name the restaurant "Chef" to link it to Chef4Rent ... and then we took the spin of making it Irish because it fits the theme here and makes it a bit more interesting," DeAnna said. "It gives us an opportunity to talk to people about it. Almost everybody who comes in here asks and ... it gives the servers a nice interaction with the guests."
So far, Mark and DeAnna said the restaurant has seen success as an Irish American pub. Everything is fresh and made in house, including Mark's most popular items — Shephard's pie, Reuben egg rolls, fish and chips, and Guiness beer-battered cheese curds.
In addition to the Irish American entrees and appetizers, Mark said he will begin introducing some new food to the menu, like calamari and an open-faced steak sandwich. He plans to launch the new bar menu this week in a slow transition toward a gastropub.
"We've had a lot of new people in here," DeAnna said. "The locals and the regulars here love us. They love the new food and they're very receptive to it ... and they like to give us some ideas too."
While the Germanos continue to settle in at the Wayside, Mark said it's still very much a joint operation, as the couple has had a lot of help from their friends, the Feys. Keri and Jake Fey have signed on as co-partners at the restaurant, and DeAnna said the goal is to purchase the space with the Feys in a few years.
"A big part of what we do here is our team," she said, noting that Keri helps with serving while Jake cooks with Mark in the kitchen. "We couldn't do what we do without them."
As time goes on, Mark and DeAnna said they hope to host some events at the restaurant and participate in some local chef competitions with Cocaire.
"We were heavily involved in the chef competition and chef world in Syracuse, so we're trying to bring that out here as well," DeAnna said. "We're going to be doing some events here to bring some life to the little village of Elbridge."
Police: Auburn man damaged hotel with fire extinguisher
An Auburn man is facing criminal charges after police said he beat a hotel room door with a fire extinguisher and activated it.
The Auburn Police Department said Martin D. Homick, 46, of 304 S. Seward Ave., beat on the door of a room in the Finger Lakes Inn early Tuesday, causing damage. He also allegedly activated the fire extinguisher, spraying the hotel hallway with its contents.
Police said the hotel was evacuated. The incident, according to the arrest report, occurred around 1:22 a.m.
Homick was charged with third-degree criminal mischief, a class E felony. He was also charged with third-degree criminal tampering, a misdemeanor.
Homick was released on an appearance ticket Tuesday. His arraignment is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 21 in Auburn City Court.
Police: Auburn man forged checks, stole over $1K
A 22-year-old man has been arrested for repeatedly stealing checks from a woman's mailbox and using them to deposit money into his own account, the Auburn Police Department said.
According to APD Capt. James Moore, Victor E. Nerau II began forging checks this summer, ultimately stealing more than $1,000 from a woman's medical spending account. In total, Moore said Nerau took eight checks.
Nerau, of 24 Nelson St. Apt. 3, Auburn, was arrested Tuesday and charged with two felonies: fourth-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. He was arraigned in Auburn City Court Tuesday evening and remanded to Cayuga County Jail without bail.
Motorists slide off snowy roads in Cayuga County
A combination of snow and rain made Friday travel tricky for motorists in Cayuga County.
Cayuga County 911 dispatch said there had been about 34 accidents as of 4 p.m. Calls involved cars spinning out and sliding into ditches in Aurelius, Weedsport, Scipio, Genoa and several other towns.
One call involved a one-car rollover around 10 a.m. in the area of 6563 Beech Tree Road, Aurelius. According to police radio reports, a woman was trapped in the vehicle after it flipped over next to a pole, but dispatch later said her injuries were minor. Aurelius and Throop fire departments responded and were able to get her out of the vehicle. The Aurelius Fire Department said the patient did not need to be transported to a hospital.
Soon after the rollover, the Aurelius Fire Department responded to Bluefield Road for a car in a ditch. The department said one patient was transported to Auburn Community Hospital by AMR Ambulance, but it was not clear the extent of the injuries.
A one-car accident in Scipio around 11:25 a.m. closed down part of Route 38 near Fire Lane 30 in both directions. Scipio Fire Chief Wayne Pettit said slippery road conditions likely caused the car to veer off into a road ditch.
"They smashed the dickens out of their vehicle," he said.
Two patients were transported to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. Pettit said he was not sure the extent of the patients' injuries, but emergency responders from Four Town Ambulance and Southern Cayuga had told him one person was in and out of consciousness. The road has since been reopened.
Winter weather continued into Friday evening. Localized amounts of snow were expected to be up to 5 inches.
Decades later, women file sex abuse complaints in Cayuga County, push for law changes
Pamela Deacon O'Grady remembers the first time she met him.
It was the summer of 1978. A clarinet player at Auburn High School, O'Grady was learning the music for the fall marching band. She had just graduated from eighth grade.
"I walked in (the high school band room) and saw him for the first time," she said. "I remember how nervous and intimidated I was ... because he was so tall."
He was her music teacher. She was 14 years old.
For the next five years, O'Grady said, he would sexually abuse her — in the band office, in the auditorium, in his car and in his home. He told her not to tell.
"I never told the secret," O'Grady said, "until now."
But now, she said, it's too late.
"Due to New York's statute of limitations, it's too late to press charges," she said. "Because of the statute of limitations, there is nothing I can do."
That could change, however, for future sex abuse victims, as proposed state legislation aims to extend or eliminate the statute of limitations.
Raising awareness about the law and why it can take some victims many years to bring forth accusations is one reason O'Grady and another woman — who said she was sexually abused in the early 1980s by a current Cayuga County resident — brought their stories to law enforcement and The Citizen in recent months.
"It has taken me 20 years of counseling to get to a point where I can tell my story," O'Grady said. "I just don't want this to happen to anyone else."
O'Grady grew up hungry.
Born and raised in Auburn, O'Grady was one of four daughters, all of whom feared their father. For years, she said, the girls suffered physical and emotional abuse at home, and she was starved of affection. Then, when her parents divorced, she was also starved of food.
"We were financially very poor and my dad was primarily absent from my life," O'Grady said in an interview at The Citizen in June. "I can remember opening the refrigerator and there would be a package of sliced American cheese and a gallon of powdered milk. That was it."
But then O'Grady joined the marching band at AHS, and the band director — Thomas R. Camp — took an interest in her family.
Camp became what O'Grady called the "family helper," giving the girls rides home from school and cutting down the family Christmas tree. More importantly, she said, he had food.
"This was when there began this slow process of connecting with me, which led into a sexual relationship throughout my high school years," O'Grady said. "It was a textbook grooming process."
It began on back roads, which Camp — 21 years her senior — took on their rides home from band practice. At first, she said, he would place a hand on her leg or give her hugs, telling her she was special. But as time progressed, the relationship turned sexual.
"I would do exactly what he told me to do," she said. "After eating the food (he brought), there was always some sort of sexual act. He told me that I couldn't tell anyone about our relationship because he wouldn't be able to see me anymore. I couldn't understand that."
The Citizen reached out to Camp earlier this month — he denied the accusations of child sex abuse. O'Grady said their relationship went on for years, extending from when she was in the high school band until she was a sophomore in college.
In high school, she said, she learned to get in Camp's car and lay face first on the back seat, or kneel on the floor under the glove compartment to hide herself. And Camp began to take more risks, abusing and raping O'Grady on and off school grounds.
Then, at the end of her junior year at AHS, O'Grady said, she and Camp were caught.
On Friday, June 13, 1980, O'Grady said district administrators spotted Camp dropping her off at school. She was getting her bicycle, which she had hid in the bushes, when two administrators pulled up.
"I realize now that they wanted to catch him with me," she said. "(One administrator) came over to the bushes and said, 'We know what's going on and I know you are in there.' Then, he left me there."
The next day, Camp resigned. But the abuse continued.
According to O'Grady, school administrators never again spoke with her, her parents or law enforcement about the matter. And O'Grady kept seeing Camp in secret for the next three years.
In a phone interview Dec. 8, Camp said O'Grady's claims were not true. While he acknowledged dating O'Grady when she was in college, he said he never had an inappropriate relationship with her or any other student at AHS.
"I got close to a lot of the students, boys and girls," Camp said, noting that he also became close with a lot of families through the music boosters. "That's just part of the nature, I guess, of being a band director.
"I don't know if (O'Grady) just misinterpreted some of that," he added.
As for Camp's resignation, the former band director said he left AHS because of "all the administrative hassle" and a growing spotlight on sports, something Camp had no interest in.
"(The administration) wanted me out and they were making things unpleasant and I just kind of had enough finally," Camp said. "I would say the biggest reason was probably that they were pretty sports-oriented at the time ... which meant me spending a lot of time with things that were not related to music."
After speaking with Camp, The Citizen contacted several former administrators who were involved with his resignation. Roger Basha, the vice president of the Auburn board of education at the time, recalled the issue. In a phone interview, he said he had to be "careful" about what he said.
"I'm sure, in my memory, that sports had nothing to do with his resignation," Basha said. "I'm sure of that."
Former Auburn Superintendent Peter Kachris agreed.
"I emphatically deny that it was about sports," Kachris said in a phone call with The Citizen. "I remember the circumstances very, very clearly and it had nothing to do with sports. Any notion that sports were being over-emphasized would had to have been in Tom Camp's mind."
When asked if the board had concerns about Camp's relationship with O'Grady, Basha said their "serious concerns" weren't isolated to one student.
"To my knowledge, it wasn't so-called 'isolated,' but it was the one so-called 'provable incident,'" he said. "It wasn't a formal investigation. We were following the advice of the administration, and the administration seemed to think that they had a valid reason for wanting (Camp to resign)."
While Kachris said he did not want to "say too much," the former superintendent confirmed that he asked Camp to resign on a Friday afternoon. The board accepted that resignation at an emergency meeting the next morning.
"For the benefit of any student involved or any of the staff that was involved, the board wanted to take proper action," Basha said.
But for O'Grady, it wasn't enough.
"I, as the child victim, didn't understand that this was statutory rape," she said. "There was no one there to help me as the victim of a crime — no one there to explain it to me. The school administration left me in the bushes. ... They never protected me or got me the help that I needed."
It took 12 years before O'Grady realized what had happened.
At 31 years old, by then a married mother of two, O'Grady struggled to watch TV — anything that showed abuse made her very emotional and angry — and she did not want to be touched. But she didn't know why.
"At first, I couldn't remember a lot of things," she said. "I had buried it in my mind. ... However, I knew something was wrong with me. So I started going for counseling and began to understand what had happened to me."
Soon, O'Grady became flooded by memories and the successful businesswoman found it more and more difficult to get out of bed in the morning. She began to cut back on work, going in three days a week until she had to quit her job entirely.
Then, she said, she no longer wanted to live.
O'Grady was ultimately diagnosed with clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. She was prescribed medication and placed in an outpatient hospitalization program, and for the next decade, she struggled to survive.
"I felt that I was guilty, that it was my fault, that I was bad, and I was so scared of myself and who I was," she said. "There was such shame, so intense and so deep that I couldn't function. ... There were so many times that I wanted to give up and take my life."
Gary Greenberg, an upstate investor and advocate for child victims, said it typically takes survivors more than 20 years to address and disclose their abuse.
"The average age is usually around 38 or 39 for a woman and 40 or 41 for a man to come forward, and that's because something typically brings back memories," he said.
For both O'Grady and Greenberg, that something was therapy.
In 1967, when Greenberg was 7 years old, he said he was molested by a male orderly at a hospital in the Albany area. But, despite telling his parents, the hospital and police about the abuse, Greenberg said the authorities suggested he and his family "forget about it." So he did, until he sought treatment in his late 20s.
Then, in 1997, Greenberg saw a picture of a man named Louis VanWie on TV and he immediately recognized his abuser. He again went to police.
This time, he wasn't alone.
In the end, Greenberg said he was one of 125 people to contact police about VanWie, who confessed to sexually abusing over 300 children in 30 years. However, due to state law, only two cases could be prosecuted.
"VanWie got away with it for so long and he was only able to be stopped because of two out of more than 300 cases," Greenberg said. "About 125 people came forward saying he had abused them or a relative, but they couldn't use any of them because the statute of limitations were up."
VanWie was ultimately sentenced to 30 years in prison for abusing two young girls in 1996. Meanwhile, Greenberg began lobbying for changes in legislation.
Now, O'Grady is too.
When O'Grady first began counseling in her early 30s, she said she finally felt ready to tell someone about her abuse.
At the time, she said she visited her hometown and went to the Cayuga County District Attorney's Office to report what had happened to her decades earlier. However, due to the statute of limitations in New York state, authorities said there was nothing they could do.
"It wasn't until I was in counseling that I realized that it was statutory rape of a minor and sexual abuse," O'Grady said. "But because of the length of time for a survivor to heal and understand what happened and get strong enough to report ... it is too late to press (criminal) charges."
But proposed legislation could change that.
In June 2017, the state Assembly passed A05885, or the Child Victims Act, a law that would extend the statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Under current law, most felony sex offenses have a five-year statute of limitations that begins when the victim turns 18; only the class A felonies of first-degree rape, first-degree criminal sex act, first-degree aggravated sexual abuse and first-degree sexual conduct against a child have no time limit for prosecution.
The Child Victims Act would give survivors more time to press charges, letting victims file criminal complaints until they turn 28 and civil action until they turn 50. In addition, the act would provide a one-year look-back window for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, allowing victims to revive time-barred cases in civil court.
However, despite passing the Assembly for the first time since 2008, the act did not reach the state Senate for a vote. At the time, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said the act was under discussion, but would not be taken up in 2017.
Locally, the Child Victims Act has support from most state representatives. Assemblymen Gary Finch and Bob Oaks both voted to pass the Child Victims Act this summer and Sens. Pam Helming and James Seward have expressed interest in backing the bill in the 2018 Legislative session. Both said they believed more could be done.
"I strongly believe that we need to do something to reform the law as it currently stands," Helming said.
State legislators representing parts of Cayuga County — Sens. John DeFrancisco, Pam Helming …
Seward added, "Strong laws are needed to contend with such repulsive offenses ... ensuring that those who commit these crimes are punished severely."
However, there has been some hesitation. Sen. John DeFrancisco said he does not support changes in legislation, including another bill — Senate Bill S809 — that would eliminate the statute of limitations entirely. The deputy majority leader has frequently cited faded memories and difficulty finding witnesses as reasons to keep the statute of limitations in decades-old cases.
"There must be a balance of the rights of the alleged victims and of those accused of committing crimes," DeFrancisco said. "By totally eliminating the statute of limitations, the balance that would be struck would be too skewed against those accused."
Still, despite some concerns in the Senate, Greenberg said he is hopeful for change in 2018.
"We're up to another legislative session and with all of the publicity around campaigns like #MeToo ... we're hoping this year we can finally get over the finish line," he said.
When O'Grady was finally ready to come forward with her abuse, there weren't many avenues for her to take.
After speaking with the Cayuga County District Attorney's Office in the mid-1990s, O'Grady said, she returned to her home in Colorado to continue counseling. But over the years, she said, she couldn't accept that there was nothing the authorities could do, and she worried there could be more victims.
So in May, O'Grady paid another visit to her hometown, and at 54 years old, she confronted Camp with a phone call.
His wife answered.
"I told her I was a student of her husband's and was wanting to know the best way to reach him," O'Grady said. "She handed him the phone."
At first, O'Grady said the former band director seemed friendly and agreed to meet with her in private. But five days later, Camp phoned to say he'd changed his mind — he wanted to meet with a mediator.
"He asked what good could come from meeting after all these years," she said. "In all these phone conversations with him he never once took accountability for what he did to me as a child or said that he was sorry."
Camp confirmed he'd had a handful of phone calls with O'Grady in the past four or five months. He said he was "very willing" to meet with her and a mediator, but was advised not to meet with O'Grady alone.
"I talked to a number of people here and they said ... do not meet with her alone because it sounds like she's trying to blackmail you," he said.
As to why O'Grady would accuse him of sexual assault, Camp said he thought she might be bitter about the way their relationship ended when she was in college.
"This is really kind of a kick in the head that she's doing this now after 40 years, and I don't know why," Camp said. "I don't know if she's just really disappointed because of the way things turned out, trying to get back at me, or because of all this other stuff that's been going on in the papers now."
In the end, O'Grady never met with Camp. Instead, she said she sent letters to him, his wife, his ex-wife and the pastor at his church. She also sent letters to the former administration of her high school as well as the current Cayuga County district attorney, Cayuga County sheriff and Auburn chief of police.
In cases like this, Auburn Police Chief Shawn Butler said his first step would be to take the complaint and speak with the district attorney on the time frame and statute of limitations.
"Back then, depending on when the crime took place, it's kind of grandfathered in," he said. "Whatever the law was then, that's what we have to adhere to. And that's unfortunate. ... I don't agree with all the laws, but unfortunately, these are the guidelines that we have to work with."
While Butler said he understands the reasoning behind the statute of limitations, as police chief he also knows the importance of holding suspects accountable, not only to keep the community safe but to also provide victims a sense of healing.
"As a law enforcement official, it's hard to prove a case 20 years later," Butler said. "You don't have evidence. All you have is a memory or a recant. ... Our ultimate goal is a conviction and how do you prove that?"
Cayuga County Sheriff David Gould agreed with the police chief's assessment, expressing similar concerns with prosecuting old cases. But, like Butler, he said he'd like to see changes in the law.
Gould's law enforcement career began in 1970 when he became an investigator with New York State Police in Auburn, and while he has seen great strides in technology and the use of a multidisciplinary approach, he said more should be done.
"We have to start somewhere," Gould said. "It's getting better, but a new law would help us immensely. We have to start a new law because the reality is there are going to be people abused in the future and 30 years from now we can go back and arrest somebody for it. ... It doesn't guarantee anything, but we can at least try."
Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said his office would always work to secure justice for victims and hold offenders accountable. However, barring the presence of DNA and digital evidence, he confirmed that the older a case is, the harder it is to prove.
"I would never criticize someone for not coming forward right away, as there are many reasons victims may not speak out promptly," he said. "However, with the passage of time, physical evidence is lost, as well as eyewitness information. The absence of such independent, corroborative evidence normally makes it more difficult to prosecute cases."
Although it is rare for Butler's and Gould's departments to receive complaints dating back to the '70s and '80s, it does happen. In fact, they said, O'Grady's is the second decades-old case brought to their attention in the past year.
Like O'Grady, Rebecca Newton Holley said it took more than 30 years until she was ready to tell her story. It began in 1981 when Holley was 13 years old. A resident of Cortland County, Holley had begun babysitting for a family friend. His name was Clair "Buck" Stephens, and he was a youth group coordinator at her church in Cortland.
During an interview at The Citizen in September 2016 — her husband, Tracy, by her side — Holley said Stephens had come home alone one night, his wife sick in the hospital, when the abuse began.
"That's the first night he molested me," Holley said. "From then on it was very often, almost weekly, and I would babysit or go places with them and the same thing would happen."
For years, Holley said she was sexually assaulted by the man who taught her how to sing in church. When she asked him to stop, she said Stephens prayed with her about it, and the concerns of multiple congregation members were ignored.
Then, during her senior year of high school, Holley told her parents.
"My dad and the minister went to Buck's house and confronted him and he admitted it to them," she said. "And they decided his whole punishment was to leave the church, get counseling and tell his next church what happened."
One of Stephens' next churches was in Cayuga County.
Years later, Holley said she discovered Stephens had eventually moved to Auburn and started his own ministry, Advancing the Kingdom Ministries. She also found a stack of letters that had been sent between Stephens and her father, David Newton, discussing Newton's need for restitution and proof that Stephens had sought counseling.
"I am still haunted by the possibility of you committing the same action with your own daughter, a niece, or another Christian family's daughter," Newton said in a typed letter dated March 11, 1988. "I can not (sic) get this out of my mind. ... I need the assurance that you are not ruining other girls and their family's (sic) lives."
Now, Newton said he wished he had gone to the authorities.
"(Buck) did very little as far as following through on many of our conversations," Newton said in a phone call. "If I had it to do over again ... I would have done things differently. I would have more than likely pressed charges and gone the legal route."
The Citizen made multiple attempts to speak with Stephens about the alleged abuse. No phone calls were returned.
Meanwhile, Holley said she grew up, got married and had two children. And for a while, she continued faith-based counseling, which centered on the need to forgive her perpetrator.
But, she said, it wasn't enough.
"I still believe his actions put those around him in danger," she said. "Since the statute of limitations has passed for me to involve the criminal justice system, I am attempting to raise awareness in the community."
In October 2016, knowing Stephens still lived in Auburn, Holley and her husband met with APD Chief Butler and Det. Lt. Brian Schenck from the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office. And at 48 years old, she filed her first official complaint with the authorities.
"They looked at some of the laws and tried to figure out something, but they said unfortunately there's nothing they can really do," Holley said. "But they were kind to me and it was at least nice that they tried to do something that should have been done a long time ago."
O'Grady and Holley know they may never get their day in court, but both said they will continue to fight for new legislation and encourage other victims to contact the authorities no matter when the abuse occurred.
"I didn't want this to happen to anyone else," O'Grady said. "Pedophiles typically have many victims and the only thing I could do was put a report in the system ... should there ever be another victim that comes forward."
Holley added, "It has taken me these many decades to realize that I can stand up to my abuser, holding him accountable for his actions, empowering others who may have been abused to speak out and protecting future victims."
With the next New York legislative session scheduled to begin Jan. 3, the Child Victims Act could soon come before state lawmakers once more. And given the recent sexual assault allegations against big names in Hollywood and Capitol Hill — names like Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken — the bill is expected to gain traction.
"National events have propelled this issue forward and serve as a rallying point," the bill's Senate sponsor, Democrat Brad Hoylman, said in a recent Associated Press article. "I'm more optimistic than ever that this session will be the breakthrough that we've been waiting for."
Meanwhile, local officials have invited victims to come forward and file a report, regardless of the statute of limitations.
"I would encourage anybody that has come to that resolution in their life where they want to come forward: Don't be afraid," Butler said. "You may not get the result that you're hoping for, but at least we can investigate it and see if we can make a case."
Budelmann added, "Society is far more educated and less judgmental of victims now than 30 years ago when they used to blame the victim and attack their reputation. Although many still worry about the stigma, I think it has gotten much better. ... But there is always more to be done."
DEC: Men arrested after shooting deer on public highway in Brutus
Two men have been charged with several misdemeanors for hunting a doe on a public road in the town of Brutus, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
According to a press release, on Dec. 8, officers responded to a complaint of illegal hunting on a public highway. The caller stated that two men had shot a doe from the road with a .20 gauge, single-shot shotgun and dragged the deer to the edge of a field to tag it.
Upon arrival, officers found 29-year-old Christopher R. Stevens, of Port Byron, and 53-year-old Scott P. Raymond, of Elbridge, at the scene. The DEC said officers also recovered a loaded .22-caliber rifle in the back of their minivan.
Following an investigation, both men were charged with several misdemeanors, including making a false written statement to police, discharging a firearm over a public highway and taking wildlife from a public highway. They were also charged with taking an anterless deer without a permit, a violation.
Meanwhile, Raymond faces some additional charges. A convicted felon, he was also charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, both misdemeanors.
Both men were arraigned in the Town of Brutus Court. Stevens was released on his own recognizance while Raymond was remanded to the Cayuga County jail in lieu of $500 bail.