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YWCA Lancaster hosting public forums following grand jury report release

LANCASTER, Pa. --- In the wake of the grand jury report on child sex abuse within six Catholic Diocese in Pennsylvania, YWCA Lancaster works to bring people together.

Wendy Gaunt, lead clinician for the sexual assault prevention counseling center, said they felt an "impulse" to do something after the report was made public last Tuesday.

"We wanted to make sure we did not let this moment fall to the side," said Gaunt.

Gaunt said the YWCA Lancaster will host a series of ten public forums this week for anyone who feels affected by the report.

"Have conversations, to voice their story, voice their concerns, to engage with other people who have been through similar situations and who also need that support in this moment," said Gaunt.

The forums are closed-door sessions to let attendees feel open to speaking, freely.

Gaunt said anyone is welcome to attend, whether they be an abuse survivor, a member of the Catholic Church or someone just looking for answers, such as Donald Zook from Manheim Township, Lancaster County.

"Just totally disgusted with the whole thing and I thought I'd come in here just to see what was going on," said Zook.

Gaunt said each forum will be unique with the conversation best matching the people who come.

Topics can vary from how sex abuse impacts individuals and their families to legislation surrounding the statute of limitations.

"I haven't formed any opinions about what I think should be done. I'd like to hear what anyone else is proposing," said Zook.

Gaunt said the main goal of the week for organizers is to show someone is listening and lending support following the details released in the grand jury report.

"It's a very challenging, trying time right now and we need to come together as a community," said Gaunt.

There will be two sessions each day this week through Friday.

The first forum starts each day at 10 a.m. with the second forum starting at 4 p.m. each day.

Gaunt said every forum is planned to go two hours.

It's free to attend any forum and there is no need to RSVP.

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