New Hampshire Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault can use the civil justice system in New Hampshire to hold abusers and the institutions that enabled them accountable  This post will explain how sex abuse victims can bring civil lawsuits in New Hampshire and what the average compensation payout is in these cases.

News & Updates

February 2024: The Diocese of Manchester has agreed to settle a claim of child sex abuse involving a former priest.  The abuse allegedly occurred when the victim was around 15 or 16 years old by Rev. Alfred L. Jannetta, who was assigned to St. Paul’s Church in Franklin during 1973 and 1974. Garabedian stated that Jannetta provided the victim with alcohol and marijuana before sexually abusing him in incidents that occurred in the church rectory and in Jannetta’s car.

This child was also sexually abused at age 8 by another unidentified priest while attending Camp Fatima in Gilmanton Iron Works.

How Does New Hampshire Define Sex Abuse?

For purposes of filing a civil lawsuit, sexual abuse and sexual assault have the same definitions as they do in criminal law. Under New Hampshire law, sexual abuse or assault is generally defined as intentional sexual contact or touching of the intimate parts of the body for the purpose sexually gratifying the abuser or degrading the victim. This definition covers everything from forcible rape to groping.

The critical element that defines all types and categories of sexual abuse or assault is the lack of consent. In the absence of consent, any form of sexual contact is actionable as sexual abuse or assault. Children (under the age of 18) lack the legal capacity to give consent to sexual contact. Therefore, any intentional sexual contact by an adult with a minor is necessarily considered sexual abuse.

Holding Third Parties Liable for Sexual Abuse in New Hampshire

Anyone who has been sexually abused or assaulted has the right to file a civil lawsuit and seek compensation. Victims can file civil lawsuits for sexual abuse even if they did not press criminal charges and even if they never told anyone about the abuse.

So who can sex abuse victims sue in a civil lawsuit? Victims of abuse can always file suit against the individual who abused or assaulted them. The problem with doing that, however, is that even if you win the lawsuit you probably won’t be able to get any money out of the abuser. In many cases, the abuser might already be dead or in jail.

The real goal in a sexual abuse civil lawsuit is going after a third party who can be held liable for the abuse. Third parties can be held liable in a civil sex abuse lawsuit if you can show that they were negligent and that this negligence allowed the abuse to happen. For example, if you were abused by a teacher at your school, the school could potentially be liable for negligently failing to stop the abuse or investigate prior complaints against the teacher. Common examples of third parties who can be liable in sexual abuse civil lawsuits include schools, churches, and organizations such as the Boy Scouts, etc.

For example, if you were abused by a teacher at your school, the school could potentially be liable for negligently failing to stop the abuse or investigate prior complaints against the teacher. Common examples of third parties who can be liable in sexual abuse civil lawsuits include schools, churches, and organizations such as the Boy Scouts, etc.

New Hampshire Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Lawsuits

A statute of limitations is a legal deadline that sets a limit on how long prospective plaintiffs can wait before filing a civil lawsuit. If a plaintiff does not file suit before the statute of limitations expires, their claims will be barred. The statute of limitations is often a major issue in sex abuse lawsuits because many victims do not feel comfortable to bring a lawsuit until years after the fact.

New Hampshire recently passed some new laws that make it easier for victims of sexual abuse to file lawsuits even after a long time has passed. Victims of child sexual abuse now have until their 30th birthday (age of majority plus 12 years) to file a civil lawsuit. In 2020, the legislature passed another new law that completely eliminates the SOL for lawsuits involving all types of sexual abuse – although this only applies to intentional tort lawsuits against the abuser, not negligence claims against third parties. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508:4-g

Settlement Value of New Hampshire Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Successful plaintiffs in a sexual abuse civil lawsuit are entitled to receive all the same types of damages as plaintiffs in normal tort cases. These include medical expenses, lost wages or earnings potential, and mental pain and suffering. New Hampshire also allows punitive damages to be awarded in sexual abuse cases.

Sex abuse claims have a very high average settlement value because juries tend to get offended by the stories of children being sexual abused. This often leads to very big verdicts with massive pain and suffering awards which factors into the settlement price tag.

Also, many third party defendants in sex abuse cases (e.g., schools, churches, etc.) a very eager to settle these cases to avoid negative publicity and protect their public image. This additional incentive often prompts third party defendants to make bigger settlement offers to get the case resolved quickly.

Sexual Abuse Verdicts and Settlements in New Hampshire

Below are examples of New Hampshire sexual abuse lawsuits that resulted in verdicts and settlements in favor of plaintiffs.

$5,000,000 Settlement: The Catholic Diocese of Manchester disbursed over $5 million to 62 victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy members in the region. The reported abuse spanned back to the 1950s and implicated 31 clergy members, including 28 priests.

$15,540,000 Settlement: Diocese of Manchester had disclosed a total payout of $15,450,000 to 176 sexual abuse survivors within the preceding 11 months. Among these victims were three men and one woman who asserted that they had been sexually abused by three priests of the Manchester Diocese between 1972 and 1990. The Diocese acknowledged these claims as credible. Overall, the documented cases of sexual abuse extended back to the early 1950s, involving 23 identified priests as perpetrators.

$75,000 Verdict: A 12-year-old female suffered posttraumatic stress disorder when she was sexually assaulted by the 74-year-old male defendant, her paternal grandfather. The defendant was convicted of felonious sexual assault. The plaintiff maintained that she continues to suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder and associated ailments. The defendant contended that the amount claimed for future treatment was excessive.

$30,000,000 Settlement: The Diocese of Manchester declared that it had dispensed approximately $30 million in settlements to sexual abuse survivors. Reflecting on past settlement disclosures, the diocese had disbursed around $14 million to victims from 2003 to 2019.

$125,000 Verdict: A 2-year-old female suffered emotional distress after she was sexually assaulted by the co-defendant 14-year-old male son of the defendant day care provider. The plaintiff contended that the defendant day care provider left the toddler at home alone with the co-defendant in violation of state regulations requiring day care workers to be at least 18 years old. The plaintiff claimed that the minor plaintiff’s mother had to quit her job which paid $15,000 per year to stay at home with her daughter until the child reached school age. The defendants contended that the toddler was so young that the assaults would not affect her.

$250,000 Verdict: 15-year-old male, was reportedly raped and sodomized by a 17-year-old male with whom he was sharing a room while they were both in-patients at the defendant Cheshire Medical Center, a mental health treatment facility for adolescents. He sued the facility for negligently failing to keep him safe, claiming that the facility ignored his requests for a new roommate and they knew the roommate was sexually aggressive. The roommate had a history of sexually deviant behavior, was a diagnosed schizophrenic, and had previously been living with his registered sex offender father.

Contact Us About New Hampshire Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Our sex abuse attorneys handle cases all across the country, including New Hampshire, through parent firms. If you were the victim of sexual abuse and want to file a sex abuse lawsuit in New Hampshire, contact us today at 800-553-8082.

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