Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Yuva Kendra Proposed Settlement Fund for Sexual Abuse Victims | Nation World News

CONCORD, NH ( Associated Press) — New Hampshire will create a $100 million fund to settle claims of child sexual abuse at its state-run youth detention center under a bipartisan bill that victims’ lawyers call offensive.

Ten former employees of the Youth Development Center in Manchester and a pre-trial facility in Concord were charged in April Along with acting as a sexual harasser or a participant in the assault of more than a dozen teens from 1994 to 2007. The centre, now called Sununu Yuva Seva Kendra, has been the target of criminal investigation since 2019, and more than 400 men and women have filed charges involving 150 Employees from 1960 to 2018.

Victims have filed nearly 350 nearly identical lawsuits against the state since a judge dismissed a class action lawsuit. in May, and another 100 are expected to be filed by Thursday, when a House committee holds a public hearing on the late draft bill that would create an alternative way of addressing their claims. One of the bill’s sponsors said the attorney general’s office requested the law “as a way to help some victims achieve quick results with less trauma.”

“I think it would really help some people move forward and not have the trauma of the courtroom,” said Rep. Kimberly Rice, R-Hudson.

Under the proposal, those who were at the Center since 1980 will have one year to file a claim, starting from October. Participants shall waive their right to demand compensation in court. Individual claims will have a maximum limit of $1.5 million and can be paid over a period of up to 10 years.

While the bill appropriates $100 million, the fund’s administrator can request additional funding from the Legislature if a shortfall is likely.

Attorney Russ Riley called the bill tone-deaf, but said he expects lawmakers to work with the survivor community to develop a fair, trauma-informed process. As it stands, the proposal requires victims to relinquish their legal rights, with no guarantee that the state will compensate them fairly for their suffering, he said.

“This version of the bill is offensive to the hundreds of brave survivors of decades of systemic government child abuse who have come forward to tell their stories,” he said on Monday.

Until recently, Riley represented almost all alleged victims. Since then he has worked closely with Nixon Peabody, an international law firm with over 600 lawyers. One of them, David Vicinanzo, said on Tuesday that if the settlement fund is enacted, the state should tread carefully with victims, who have little reason to trust the state, as it was misused by them. .

“They have an uphill climb to win back that trust, and that trust will need to be earned,” said Vicinenzo, who previously served as federal prosecutor for New Hampshire as the top assistant U.S. attorney. Were. He and five other lawyers from his firm have signed off on Yuva Kendra’s cases.

“There is no greater honor than to be trusted by our society and government to get justice for the cruel and neglected people as children, and who have no reason to trust anyone,” he said.

Another sponsor of the legislation, Republican Senator Jeb Bradley of Wolfborough, said it showed the state was taking responsibility for the abuse. Representative Patrick Long of the Manchester Democrat agreed.

“It is a matter of shame for the state as a whole. “I believe we should listen to them, give compensation to those who want compensation and ensure that this never happens again.”

The Manchester facility serves children ordered by the juvenile justice system to a safe institutional setting. Although it was once above 100 youth, now the general population is about a dozen teenagers, and the current state budget calls for this to be replaced with a much smaller facility. in 2023.

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