Canton community walks in support of sexual assault victim

CANTON -- The community of Canton came together Saturday to call attention to the issue of violence against women after a female victim was allegedly sexually assaulted in town last week.

Police said it happened on the Farmington River Trail Tuesday morning.

“It’s time to start a conversation about how men are not going to rape women anymore,” said Kalia Kellog.

Kellogg, who lives in, Canton decided she would be the one to start that conversation.

Instead of living in fear, she organized the community-wide “Take Back Our Trail” walk along the trail to stand in solidarity with the victim.

“I was told she feels the strengthened by this,” Kellogg said. “If that is all we’ve accomplished, that is worth everyone coming.”

One of about 200 participants read a letter from the unidentified victim, which expressed the woman’s gratitude.

It read in part, “I’d like to thank everyone for the overwhelming display of support and love.”

In her letter, the victim also pushed back against critics questioning whether she could have prevented the assault.

As a survivor of assault, Cynthia Wolcott of Hartford can relate.

“I had too share a traumatic event like this,” Wolcott said. “And it’s not our fault.”

Like Wolcott, some people here are also survivors of assault or violence.
“People came up to me with tears in their eyes,” Kellogg said. “People who’d been victims 30 years ago.”

“They end up carrying the burden, and it’s really not their burden to carry,” said Donna Gentile of New Hartford.
Instead of carrying the burden of her own violent trauma, Gentile poured her energy into making music and art.

She said she participated in the walk to show other victims of violence that they’re not alone.

“See what can happens when people rise up and walk alongside of you,” Gentile said.
“We stand by you, Canton said. “We will not except this kind of behavior in our community.”