Reports of sexual assault have increased substantially in recent years in Vermont, with close to a 50%+ increase in reported rapes in the State in 2017 vs. 2016 (plus an additional 12% increase from 2017 to 2018 – the most recently reported year.) While this influx of reports exposes a dark reality of sex abuse in Vermont, this trend also suggests that more victims are stepping forward to get justice, given Vermont’s progressive laws that allow for victims to pursue civil sex abuse lawsuits with no statute of limitations.
Vermont sex abuse victims deserve justice, and the State is making it possible for victims to get compensation from civil lawsuits for abuse that took place at any time. In this guide, you’ll get more information about Vermont’s laws around sex abuse, how the legal process works for getting compensation from a civil case, and what to look for in an attorney for an attorney for a sex abuse case.
What Types of Sex Abuse Cases Can Be Brought Forward in Vermont?
Vermont has codified multiple progressive rape and sexual assault laws that give victims more legal protections than most other states (see source list at the end of the article for specific legislation and legal resources). There are many types of sex abuse cases that can now be brought as civil action, no matter how long ago the abuse happened (meaning that the statute of limitations is no longer a barrier to seeking accountability).
If any of the provided circumstances seem relevant to your situation, you should consult with a Vermont attorney who can pursue a civil suit and get you compensation.
As explained in Vermont’s Code 13 V.S.A. § 3252, “No person shall engage in a sexual act with another person:
- without the consent of the other person;
- by threatening or coercing the other person;
- by placing the other person in fear that any person will suffer imminent bodily injury or
- when the person knows or reasonably should know that the other person is asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sexual act is occurring.”
“No person shall engage in a sexual act with another person when the other person is incapable of consenting to the sexual act due to substantial impairment by alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants and that condition is known or reasonably should be known by the person.”
If you were a child who was abused by an adult in your family, at your church, at school, or in any setting, you are entitled to take legal action. The person who committed the crime can face criminal charges and owe the victim financial compensation.
Here are the particular laws that apply to minor sexual abuse:
- “No person shall engage in a sexual act with a child who is under the age of 16, except:
- where the persons are married to each other, and the sexual act is consensual or
- where the person is less than 19 years old, the child is at least 15 years old, and the sexual act is consensual.
- No person shall engage in a sexual act with a child who is under the age of 18 and is entrusted to the actor’s care by the authority of law or is the actor’s child, grandchild, foster child, adopted child, or stepchild.
- No person shall engage in a sexual act with a child under the age of 16 if:
- The victim is entrusted to the actor’s care by the authority of law or is the actor’s child, grandchild, foster child, adopted child, or stepchild, or
- The actor is at least 18 years of age, resides in the victim’s household, and serves in a parental role with respect to the victim.”
Aggravated Sexual Assault
“A person commits the crime of aggravated sexual assault if the person commits sexual assault under any one of the following circumstances:
- At the time of the sexual assault, the actor causes serious bodily injury to the victim or to another.
- The actor is joined or assisted by one or more persons in physically restraining, assaulting, or sexually assaulting the victim.
- The actor commits the sexual act under circumstances that constitute the crime of kidnapping.
- The actor has previously been convicted in this State of sexual assault… or aggravated sexual assault or has been convicted in any jurisdiction in the United States…
- At the time of the sexual assault, the actor is armed with a deadly weapon and uses or threatens to use the deadly weapon on the victim or on another.
- At the time of the sexual assault, the actor threatens to cause imminent serious bodily injury to the victim or to another, and the victim reasonably believes that the actor has the present ability to carry out the threat.
- At the time of the sexual assault, the actor applies deadly force to the victim.
- The victim is under the age of 13, and the actor is at least 18 years of age.
- The victim is subjected by the actor to repeated nonconsensual sexual acts as part of the same occurrence, or the victim is subjected to repeated nonconsensual sexual acts as part of the actor’s common scheme and plan.”
How Sexual Assault Victims Can Take Legal Action in Vermont
Vermont’s progressive laws allow citizens who are victims of sexual assault to take legal action with no statutes of limitation, meaning that you can take action at any time if you were a victim in the State.
Vermont sex abuse attorneys are here to help with civil suits that can get sexual assault victims financial compensation. Here are the general steps to pursuing legal action against an individual (or organization if systemic abuse occurred ) and get a settlement:
No. 1: Talk to A Vermont Sex Abuse Attorney
Sex abuse attorneys in Vermont are familiar with the intricate details of the Green Mountain State’s laws. In talking to an attorney and discussing the circumstances around your assault, they will be able to confirm that your situation is protected under Vermont law, break down how the legal process works, and give you an idea on the type of compensation for which you are entitled.
Keep in mind attorneys are often willing to work on contingency, meaning that you won’t have to pay throughout the legal process and that your attorneys won’t receive compensation unless you receive a financial award.
No. 2: File a Claim With the State
After your lawyer acquires the necessary details and gathers supporting evidence, a formal complaint will be filed on your behalf. This complaint will detail events that unfolded regarding your sexual abuse and will specify the compensation being pursued.
No. 3: Seek a Settlement
After the discovery process unfolds, the defendant (your alleged abuser and/ or the organization that allowed the abuse to take place) and their legal team will often move to settle before the civil lawsuit is taken to trial.
If you and your attorney are content with the offered settlement, the case will be settled, and you will receive compensation. Oftentimes, there is a back-and-forth negotiation on what settlement amount is fair, which can take anywhere from months to sometimes years. If a settlement is not agreed upon, the sexual assault case will go to court.
Get Justice for Your Sexual Assault With No Up Front Attorneys Fees
Many attorneys are willing to work with sexual assault victims with no upfront cost to the victims. That means you won’t have to spend a dime to take your abuser to court, and your attorney will only receive compensation if they get you the settlement you deserve.
If you experienced any sexual assault, from rape to clergy abuse, you deserve compensation. To get started, book a call with a Vermont sex abuse attorney who can pursue justice for you against your assailant.
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