ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Scott Modell spent his career working with children of abuse, and children with disabilities. He knows the statistics well; children with intellectual or developmental disabilities are three to six times more likely to be sexually or physically abused than typical children
And he's seen what the abusers get away with.
"We know that not all of these cases are prosecuted," Modell said. "Theyr'e very difficult to prosecute and when we do prosecute we don't get 100 percent conviction rate. So the consequence for a number of people committing crimes against children with disabilities, is they get to do it again. And I'm sick of it. And I know this group is sick of it."
The group, is the newly formed IDD Alliance of Greater Rochester; 10 agencies that already work with children, now working together to prevent abuse of disabled children.
Law enforcement has come to depend on the Bivona Child Advocacy Center and its specialists to help interview children of abuse. Now Bivona is learning from these other agencies how best to communicate with children who often cannot speak for themselves.
"We learn a lot from Bivona about the process of the investigation and how the case is put together and what they've been able to learn from this community of providers is how to work differently with people with disabilities, how might they communicate differently, how to interpret some behavior, what's a contex that may make a child feel more comfortable if they have autism or sensory needs," said Karen Zandi, Mary Cariola Children's Center president and CEO.
A big focus of course for the alliance is training, so it hopes to continue training sessions like one going on here today for all of those who work with the intellectually and developmentally disabled.
The work of the alliance is welcome news to Chris Tumminelli, whose 9-year-old son Landon has Down Syndrome. Chris worries Landon is more vulnerable and is grateful all these agencies are working hard to keep him and others safe.
"He may just take off with anybody or trust anybody," Tumminelli said. "He tends to be more trusting. I can't be there 24/ 7 at that point. To have this alliance in place to teach parents, to teach the staff to look for the signs. It's critical. I wish we had it 20, 30, 40 year ago."