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Can anything good come of it?

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crime and courts River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Tom O'Connell of Cross Plains, Wis., and brother of the late Dan O'Connell, said the murders are as painful today as they were 10 years ago. He and the family, however, have worked hard to create some positive elements.

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O'Connell has become very active in National Child Protection Training Center, an organization dedicated to preventing child abuse that is headquartered in St. Paul.

It was essentially the child-abuse by Father Ryan Erickson that led to the murders of Dan O'Connell and James Ellison. Finding those individuals early in the process can hopefully prevent more tragedies in the future. More importantly, it can cut into the abuse endured by millions of children.

"Abuse is a major problem," O'Connell said. "One of four girls and one of six boys are sexually molested before they reach the age of 18."

O'Connell is currently the chair of the board of directors for the NCPTC.

"We operate training programs across the country, and try to reach all professions in which people deal with children -- police, teachers, social workers, hospitals, etc." O'Connell said. "We want to put the bad guys away, and also work hard in prevention. We want to make sure those who work with kids, and those who work with people who work with kids, know what to look for."

He said the organization currently has programs incorporated into 75 universities and hopes to make it 500 in the next five years.

"Every organization is impacted by child abuse. It can be churches, coaches, youth group leaders and much more," O'Connell said. "A case like Penn State gets a lot of publicity, but with numbers like one in four and one in six, there are huge numbers of children who need to be protected."

He said the entire O'Connell family has worked hard in the efforts of NCPTC.

"I sincerely believe that children are safer today than they were a decade ago when the murders occurred," O'Connell said. "That's the good thing that came out of this tragic story."

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