CHICAGO (CBS) — Today’s emotional testimony from one of Hastert’s alleged victims, sends a powerful message to both survivors of abuse and predators.
CBS 2’s Sandra Torres reports on how Scott Cross’ words in court made an impact.READ MORE: Jussie Smollett Returns To Witness Stand, Again Denies Hiring Osundairo Brothers To Stage Attack; 'There Was No Hoax'
“By coming forward and breaking your silence he’s reclaiming his voice and he’s taking that stand,” said Erin Merryn.
As a victim of sexual abuse, Merryn commends Scott Cross for testifying at Dennis Hastert’s sentencing hearing.
“It’s very powerful,” she said. “He sends a message to survivors across this world, not just here in Illinois, that don’t stay silent, you have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Cross gave specific details of Hastert’s alleged abuse when he was a high school wrestler, which is typically unheard of.
Cross had kept the abuse secret until Hastert’s prosecution became public. He then sought counseling, which one expert says likely helped Cross go public.
“If someone has gone through therapy, they probably will not be re-victimized or have a lot of emotional discomfort when presenting it in court or talking about it with other people because they’ve dealt with the trauma,” said Dr. Mitchell Glazer, a child adolescence psychiatrist.
Hastert spoke at the hearing, apologizing to those he hurt and misled, stating, “I know I am here because I mistreated some of my athletes.”READ MORE: North Carolina, Tennessee And Washington D.C. Added To The Chicago Travel Advisory
“I think he’s calling it mistreatment to personally, be able to live with himself,” said Dr. Glazer.
Barbara Blaine from SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was in court all morning and was shocked to hear the testimony from Cross.
“We’re extremely grateful to Mr. Cross for actually coming out today,” Blaine said. “Not only did he tell what happened, but he was vulnerable enough to tell the details of what he endured, that’s really embarrassing.”
Embarrassing but crucial details that could encourage other victims of sexual abuse to speak out.
“This sends a message to every predator out there that you can’t silence them, you will get caught,” Merryn said.
“It’s important for victims to speak out to prevent the perpetrators from doing it again to someone else, so it takes a lot of courage,” said Dr. Glazer.
“I believe that this gives a great deal of hope to victims everywhere,” Blaine said.
Barbara Blaine added that more victims will eventually speak out if statute of limitations laws change in Illinois.MORE NEWS: Bookings For Airbnb 'Home Alone' House Opens Tuesday
Today, Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged lawmakers to make that happen, by asking that statute of limitations on child sex crimes be eliminated.