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Unusual Billboard Prompts New Allegations Of Decades-Old Child Sexual Abuse

Billboards in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 2019 sought victims of child sexual abuse.
Heather Bellow
The Berkshire Eagle / berkshireeagle.com
A billboard placed on Route 7 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

A billboard on Route 7 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, has prompted new charges of sexual child abuse that allegedly took place decades ago. 

The billboard reads: "DID SOMETHING HAPPEN TO YOU in the Janitor's Room at Sheffield Center School?"

The Sheffield police say the billboard has elicited charges from two women who said they were sexually assaulted about 40 years ago at an elementary school in New Marlborough. 

Sheffield Police Chief Eric Munson III said the billboard was paid for by the parent of a man who filed sexual assault charges that date back to 1979 against an employee at the Sheffield Center School. The school, which was an elementary school, is now closed. 

Munson said that in 2016, the district attorney's office told him the time limit on taking legal action, known as the statute of limitations, had run out on the case. But he said he's hopeful the billboard may help.

"If we can get more witnesses or another victim that can corroborate what the first complainent has told us that could allow the statute of limitations to get expanded," Munson said.

Berkshire DA Andrea Harrington said none of these allegations have been reported to her office since she was sworn in this year. She said that even if the statute of limitations ran out, it's valuable to establish a factual record, and to make sure victims receive help.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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