Clergy sexual abuse within religious organizations has become a common problem that states across the country are trying to handle by passing new laws. The hope of these newly improved protections is that victims feel more comfortable coming forward to report their abuse. Unfortunately, many of these cases still go unreported because victims are scared to come forward or are intimidated by how the community might react.
It is possible for you to take action against your abuser to make sure that he or she is held responsible. Before you take action, you might want to discuss your case with the office of a New Hampshire clergy sexual abuse lawyer to see what your legal options are. Contact the offices of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 219-9622 for a free consultation about your case.
New Hampshire Clergy Sexual Abuse Law
According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, New Hampshire is among many states that require clergy members to report suspected abuse to authorities. Many states have also passed mandatory reporting laws that require people that interact with children on a regular basis to report any suspected abuse to law enforcement. The hope is that these laws will provide children with better protection from abuse.
New Hampshire is one of the few states that deny privileged communication to clergy members. Any communication with a clergy member, regardless of its intent to remain confidential, cannot be considered confidential when involving child sexual abuse.
Understanding Your Rights
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), any sexual activity involving a minor constitutes abuse. While anyone can commit child sexual abuse, this becomes a complex problem when it involves clergy members. In an effort to reduce negative publicity, religious organizations have sometimes taken measures to cover up cases of child abuse.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations regarding clergy sexual abuse has changed in many states in the last few years. Many states realized the previous statute was making it difficult for older victims to come forward and take action. By the time they reached an age where they would be able to address the abuse, the statute had expired, limiting their legal options. Some states have increased the statute of limitations, while others have eliminated it entirely.
The current law that dictates the statute of limitations for sexual abuse in New Hampshire limits legal actions after 22 years. The legislation in the state is constantly changing, and there is current legislation that may eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual assault entirely, making it possible for victims of any age to come forward and take legal action against their abusers.
Settlement vs. Trial
It can be difficult for victims to take legal action against their abusers. Another part of the process that can create a lot of stress is the trial itself. Once your lawsuit has been filed with the court, you will have to wait until your signed court date. Waiting can sometimes make victims nervous about the potential outcome and the possibility of having to talk about their abuse in front of a judge and jury.
Religious organizations have a record of offering settlement agreements to victims in order to prevent cases from going to trial. If you accept a settlement agreement, you will receive compensation according to the established terms and give up any additional claims you may have. This can be a way of cutting the lawsuit short and keeping it out of the public eye while still recovering compensation. Before you accept the agreement, you might want to discuss it with your New Hampshire clergy sexual abuse lawyer to make sure that it meets your needs.
Possibly Recoverable Compensation
In your lawsuit, you can file claims for compensation for a variety of expenses related to your recovery from your case. For example, you can file medical expense claims to recover the costs of any medical treatments you need. Many lawsuits include claims for pain and suffering awards, which are designed to compensate you for the emotional and mental stress that results from your abuse. This has the potential to be the largest compensation category in your lawsuit, depending on your specific circumstances. You may be able to file claims are other types of compensation as long as you can prove that the damages are related to your abuse and your recovery.
Speak to a Lawyer About Your Case
Before you make any decisions about taking legal action, you might want to discuss your case with the office of a New Hampshire clergy sexual abuse lawyer. Due to recent changes in the law, it is important to make sure that you have a viable case under the new regulations. Call the offices of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 219-9622 to discuss your case with our team.