Vermont Sex Abuse Lawyer
Child sexual abuse is an unthinkable, unconscionable act. Yet, it still occurs far too often, both in Vermont and across the world at large. It is a scourge that doesn’t discriminate and affects people across age groups, gender, and cultural background.
Moreover, this form of abuse isn’t necessarily one act. It could entail a number of heinous, reprehensible acts against a child, actions like:
- Inappropriate Touching
- Indecent Exposure
- Child Pornography
- Sexual Harassment
Adults and children must be proactive by taking time to understand the many forms of sexual abuse. Vermont’s Agency of Human Services Department for Children and Families provides various resources on educating the public about sexual abuse.
These resources emphasize making sure children feel comfortable telling caregivers if someone sexually abuses them, which is one way to help end this atrocity. Healing the pain that sexual abuse survivors feel can be a difficult journey.
That is where a Vermont sex abuse attorney can assist survivors on this healing journey, by helping them file a civil case against the abuser and letting the abused know they are not alone.
At Herman Law, we’re proud to assist sexual abuse survivors in facing their trauma, holding their abuser(s) accountable, and moving forward on the road to recovery. It’s a long, arduous road, but a civil lawsuit can help you recover from the financial, emotional, and physical toll the perpetrator caused.
Our experienced and compassionate attorneys can help you protect your rights, move forward, and answer any questions you might have. If you’re a survivor in Vermont, you should consider contacting our sexual abuse lawyers at Herman Law today to understand your legal rights, how you can take legal action, and how you can obtain the compensation you deserve.
Vermont Sexual Abuse Laws
Under Vermont law Title 13, section 3258, the Vermont legislature established the following rules for sexual exploitation of a minor in the state. It specifies that individuals cannot engage in a sexual act with a minor if:
- The abuser is a minimum of 48 months older than the minor
- The abuser is in a position of authority, supervision, or power over the minor
- The abuser’s position of authority includes guidance, instruction, leadership, care at recreational activities or health and welfare of the minor
If the first point is violated, the abuser can face incarceration for up to one year and a fine of up to $2,000.
Moreover, if the abuser uses their authority to coerce the minor into a sexual act, they can face a jail term of five years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Vermont Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Crimes
Fortunately, there is no statute of limitations that would prevent an adult who suffered childhood sexual abuse from filing a claim against their abuser.
Granted, this lack of a filing deadline was not always the case, and Vermont’s limitation for filing was six years after the abuse took place. However, in 2019, Gov. Phil Scott signed H.330 into law, a law that ended such time limits.
Bypassing H.330, adults who suffered sexual abuse as children can now address the issue and hold the perpetrator responsible indefinitely.
Rachael Denhollander, an attorney and former gymnast who was the first woman to come forward against disgraced Dr. Larry Nassar, also made a point to speak out against filing limits.
She argued that imposing such limitations can be problematic, since children may be unable to comprehend what happened to them. Limiting when a sexually abused person can file a civil lawsuit makes placing a civil claim against a sexual abuser difficult.
Vermont Sex Abuse Statistics
The Vermont Department for Children and Families estimates that approximately 335 substantiated cases of child sex abuse occur each year in the state.
This number tracks with nationwide reporting on the incidence of substantiated sexual abuse: roughly 60,000 children suffer sexual abuse each year in the United States. The incidence of sex abuse in those 12 and older shows that one out of every six women has faced sexual abuse in their lifetime, whether completed or attempted.
Some additional harrowing statistics include the fact that the vast majority of victims are only 12 to 17 years old. Among minor sexual abuse victims at large, 34 percent are less than 12 years of age, and 66 percent of those assaulted are 12 to 17.
Recent Vermont Sexual Abuse Cases
Sexual abuse cases are making the news in Vermont. In August 2021, Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced that Essex Junction resident John Marawas arraigned for six felony counts of possession of child sex abuse materials. Mara pled not guilty and was released on the condition that he has limited access to children and the internet.
On May 3, 2021, many University of Vermont students held a rally in response to an Instagram post talking about a sexually abusive incident on campus. In the incident, a junior alleged that she was assaulted by another student and that she received little university support after the incident. Other students also spoke out about their experiences surviving sexual abuse, showing that this is all too common on campuses around Vermont.
Nationally, the Boy Scouts of America recently settled claims filed by 60,000 men abused as minors for $850 million. The parties reached this settlement in 2021 and it is just the first expected settlement of many in the months and years to come.
A lead negotiator claimed it was one of the largest sexual abuse settlements in history, and that certainly seems to be the case. It was twice the amount of the initial proposal, and local councils are expected to contribute another $300 million. Furthermore, non-financial commitments are part of the settlement, such as a functional reporting system, protection measures for youths, information sharing, and the structuring of a Child Protection System.
Some praised this deal, while others scorned it as being too little too late. With the Scouts being called a magnet for sexual predators and having confirmed abuse cases harkening back to the 1940s, some saw the possibility of a $3,500 to $5,000 payout after years of enduring sexual abuse as inadequate. Boy Scouts in Vermont have until November 16, 2021, to file a claim against the organization.
Child Sex Abuse in Vermont’s Catholic Church
In recent years, many victims have disclosed the sexual abuse they endured within the Catholic dioceses. A study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice claimed that 4,392 active deacons and Catholic priests (4% of all priests) faced sexual abuse accusations from 1950 to 2002. Since then, the number of credible sexual abuse allegations against priests has only been rising. Even those in the higher echelons of the church are beginning to be held accountable by accusations of involvement.
In Vermont, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington released a report in August 2019 listing 40 priests with substantiated sexual abuse claims against them. The diocese chose a seven-member committee, which included a layperson and a sexual abuse survivor, to examine a compendium of complaints against 50 clergies. The format was similar to that employed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, NY. To be seen as a substantive allegation, the facts in the case must be plausible, corroborated by another source of evidence, and the accused must admit to their wrongdoing.
Learn more about filing a sexual abuse lawsuit against the clergy in Vermont by using our convenient contact form.
Damages for Vermont Sex Abuse Victims
Since sexual abuse of a child has serious consequences that might cause physical, emotional, and psychological trauma, the abused party can file for monetary damages. These include the cost of medical or psychological treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Survivors of child sexual abuse often face traumatic effects that require both economic and non-economic damage compensation. Non-economic damage compensation would include any medical bills or medical expenses the victim incurred through therapy or recovery treatments. Further, if, as an adult, the victim is unable to work at specific jobs or has an erratic job history due to the event(s), an experienced personal injury lawyer can calculate the monetary damages.
Vermont Resources for Sex Abuse Survivors
The state of Vermont provides numerous resources for child sex abuse victims as well as their loved ones. The Vermont Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Abuse oversees Vermont’s response to this problem, while The Department of Corrections and the Department for Children and Families are joint administrators. All of these organizations emphasize prevention, intervention, and treatment.
One program, Darkness to Light, details five steps to protect children, and five steps to help parents recognize the problem and react responsibly. The program instructs parents and caregivers to learn the facts, decrease the risks of further abuse, and discuss the situation openly.
Another is the DCF-Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Website. They provide educational material about sexual abuse, such as where and how it happens, who are sexual abusers, and why minors may not want to talk about it. There is also ample discussion about how to talk to children about sexual abuse.
How Can A Vermont Sex Abuse Attorney Help Me?
At Herman Law, we represent sex abuse clients and to help them receive the monetary compensation they deserve. Whether the crime occurred 20 years ago or last week, we will walk you through the entire process to ensure you receive the best results. Our legal team will offer advice about both civil cases and criminal charges, investigate the case thoroughly, and hold the sexual abuser accountable for their acts. We understand how troubling and confusing a sexual abuse case is and will make every effort we can to address our client’s concerns. Whether the abuse involves a member of the clergy, a neighbor, a health care provider, or a family member, we are there for you.
We’ve helped numerous clients obtain the compensation they deserve and set themselves on the straight and narrow toward the road to recovery. While we encourage and provide resources for victims, we work to obtain damages so the victim can receive the treatment they need and move on past this horrific event. Preserving our clients’ rights and helping them achieve freedom from the past is our number one duty.