Katie Beers, who survived being held captive as a child in an underground dungeon in Bay Shore, said Wednesday that she's grateful victimized children in Suffolk County now have a one-stop agency to help them.
"At least there is something there that will help children and give them a comforting feeling to be able to talk about what happened to them, and they don't have to be shuffled around. . . . It's all in one place," she said.
On Tuesday, Beers, 30, visited the privately run Suffolk County Child Advocacy Center in Central Islip -- founded in 1997 in the wake of her ordeal -- and found "it was such a loving, welcoming atmosphere . . . something I could never have imagined."
The Pennsylvania mother of two shared her story Wednesday before about 400 people at the "Light of Hope" luncheon at Crest Hollow Country Club, presented by EAC, a Long Island social services agency. Afterward, she signed copies of her book, "Buried Memories: Katie Beers' Story."
Questioned by the child center's regional director, Andrea Ramos-Topper, Beers said her mother abandoned her when she was a baby, leaving her with her godmother and her husband. She was sexually abused in that home, but lied when child protective services caseworkers visited, she said.
"They were interviewing me and asking me questions about whether I was abused at the time . . . and the interview actually was conducted in the bedroom where the abuse was occurring, and I was literally sitting right on the bed where the abuse was occurring, so I was not truthful or honest," she said.
In December 1992, when she was 9, Beers was abducted by a family friend, John Esposito, who imprisoned her for 17 days in a basement bunker at his home. He later surrendered and was convicted of kidnapping in 1994.
Asked by Ramos-Topper to recall her most vivid memory of her rescue, Beers replied: "The thing I remember most about that day is when I was just brought up out of the dungeon, I actually sat in a living room, either next to John or across from John.
"It could have been 30 seconds or it could have been for an hour. I don't know the concept of that time. But I was actually in the room with my captor with law enforcement around," she said.