Are you looking for information on Vermont sexual assault and child sexual abuse laws as the victim or loved one of one? You may be wondering:
- How can I get justice as a survivor of sexual assault?
- How does Vermont prosecute sexual offenders?
- Should I consider hiring a victims' rights lawyer?
Our lawyers understand the difficulties your family is facing. We can help you find justice and support.
It's important to ask how organizations and individuals can do more to prevent child sexual abuse and sexual assault.
"Driven & Compassionate." The attorneys at Abuse Guardian made us feel like family.
Were you or a loved one sexually abused or assaulted in Vermont? Our experienced sexual misconduct attorneys can help. We believe you, and we believe your story deserves to be told. You are not alone, though it may feel like it sometimes. Remember that help is available. Our attorneys are here to support you in your legal decisions as you pursue justice. Recovery is possible. We've seen it happen numerous times. You have powerful legal options.
Your Legal Rights Under Vermont Law
Our lawyers understand the painful emotions that sexual abuse and assault can cause. You may be struggling to handle feelings of pain and anger, grief and shame, or even suffering from depression. These are natural reactions to a terrible trauma. You were victimized, perhaps by someone you trusted. It may have been a friend or acquaintance, a trusted priest or medical professional, a sports coach or teacher, even a family member. Please know that you did nothing wrong. This was not your fault. You are not to blame. It's important to place the blame where it belongs - with the person who abused you.
You must know that justice is possible. Thanks to Vermont's strong tradition of civil common law, you may be eligible to pursue financial compensation and accountability by filing a private civil lawsuit. This is your right as a citizen of Vermont. Your life does not need to be defined by what happened to you. You can move past this trauma by taking control over the situation and exerting your rights. In a private civil lawsuit, you can hold accountable the person who abused you, along with any institutions, organizations or individuals who enabled the abuse to occur through negligence.
You can pursue significant financial compensation to support your recovery. Coming back after a sexual assault or sexual abuse can take years of hard work, effort and dedicated therapies. These treatments can be costly, but you shouldn't be forced to pay for them on your own. We believe that your abuser, along with any third-party defendants who facilitated your abuse, should be made to compensate you. Our job is to ensure that justice is done.
Meet Our Dedicated Sexual Misconduct Attorneys
AbuseGuardian.com is sponsored by a national network of experienced personal injury lawyers who have dedicated their careers to protecting the rights of sexual assault and sexual abuse survivors. We have no other goal but to see you compensated for the suffering you have sustained. You may have been victimized by a dangerous predator, but you have powerful legal rights under Vermont law, both inside and outside of the criminal justice system. In the criminal justice system, you are considered the victim of a crime, but in the civil justice system, you are a survivor, fighting for your rights.
Despite having never meet, our attorneys have your best interests at heart. We want to see you made whole again. This is our life's work, and our passion. We've helped countless sexual assault and sexual abuse survivors regain their power after a terrible trauma. We've seen remarkable recoveries, as survivors just like you make their voices heard, tell their stories and hold their abusers accountable. This is valuable work, but it takes you to make it happen.
Our payment structure is designed to ensure that you feel protected. Our attorneys only work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning any payment you submit to us is contingent on our work performance. In short, you only pay us after (and if) we secure compensation in your case. If we cannot secure compensation for you, our services are free. This is our promise to you - that we have no other interests but to see you compensated for your suffering.
Our Vermont Litigation Team
Our attorneys will pull out all the stops in defending your rights. Over 40 years of combined trial experience, our lawyers have helped numerous sexual abuse and assault survivors in pursuing financial compensation. We've stood up to some of the biggest organizations in America, from high-profile cases against the Catholic Church to a series of lawsuits filed against the largest massage spa chain in the country, Massage Envy. Through all of these cases, we put our clients' interests at the heart of every decision we make. Our attorneys get results, because that's the only thing that matters.
To handle cases in Vermont, our nationwide network has partnered with the experienced attorneys at Laffey, Bucci & Kent, a firm with over four decades of combined legal experience. The lawyers at Laffey, Bucci & Kent have secured an impressive record of success in pursuing financial compensation on behalf of sexual assault and sexual abuse survivors. The firm's lawyers have handled numerous cases, against defendants both large and small, from private religious boarding schools and military academies to the Catholic Church and Massage Envy. Their legal team is guided by an unfailing dedication to the rights of survivors, with a focus on ensuring that organizations and institutions who enable sexual abuse and assault pay for what they have done.
At Laffey, Bucci & Kent, our sexual assault and abuse litigation team is led by Brian Kent, Esq. Before entering private practice, Brian began his legal career as a prosecutor for the Sex Crimes Unit of the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office in Pennsylvania. As a sex crimes prosecutor, he earned valuable experience within the criminal justice system, but learned that his skills and talents could be better used by representing sexual abuse and assault survivors directly as a private civil attorney. Today, Brian knows that his work has a direct impact in the lives of survivors, even as the civil justice system provides him with new opportunities to pursue litigations against negligent third-party defendants, who are rarely hailed into criminal courts.
Vermont Repeals Child Sexual Abuse Statute Of Limitations
Vermont's strong history of common law allows sexual assault and sexual abuse survivors to pursue justice on their own behalf by filing civil lawsuits, both against the direct perpetrators of these crimes and negligent third-party defendants, such as a school or church. Filing a lawsuit provides you with the opportunity to pursue financial damages to make up for the suffering you have been caused, as well as forcing the responsible parties to be held accountable.
And your path to justice just became easier. In a major development for survivors of sexual abuse throughout the state, Vermont's legislature has repealed the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse crimes. The statute of limitations is a state law that restricts the amount of time survivors have to file suit. Under Vermont's previous law, survivors of childhood sexual abuse were granted only six years from the date of abuse to file a lawsuit. This law has now been eliminated, entirely. There is no time limit for filing a civil lawsuit against your abuser or negligent third-party defendants.
This is a major new development that will certainly shape the way in which child sexual abuse claims are litigated in Vermont. But even more momentous, the repeal on the statute of limitations has been made retroactive. In short, Vermont has reopened the legal door for thousands of sexual abuse survivors who were previously barred from filing suit due to the state's statute of limitations. No longer are there any legal hurdles in the way of your justice. If you have a viable case against an abuser and / or a negligent third-party defendant, you will be able to file your case without exceptions, even if the abuse occurred decades ago. The time to act is surely now. You can take control over this terrible situation to exert your rights in civil court.
Pursuing Private Civil Litigation
With radical new legislation in the books, Vermont has created a fresh opportunity for virtually every sexual abuse survivor in the state, but the repeal of the statute of limitations also raises critical questions. Were you or a loved one sexually abused as a child in Vermont? It no longer matters when the abuse occurred, even if you were abused sixty years ago. There is no longer a time limit for filing suit. What are you going to do with this newfound power? Will you take advantage of Vermont's new law? Will you participate in what could be the largest wave of sexual abuse lawsuits ever seen in the state's history?
For obvious reasons, these are important questions you will need to answer on your own. Filing a personal injury lawsuit is a major decision, one that will occupy your time and emotional resources. It's not something to be taken lightly. It takes effort and hard work to build a successful case. When you are ready, our experienced attorneys are here to help. We've gained significant experience in handling similar legal changes, especially in New York and New Jersey.
The Basics Of Legal Action
For centuries, sexual abuse and sexual assault survivors have been forced into silence. Society has not been kind to survivors. Many people continue to intimidate the victims of abuse, either directly or indirectly, forcing them to find refuge in the shadows. Shame and fear are common, continual reminders that the world can be an unkind place. This is especially true for those victimized by people they once trusted - friends, family members or respected professionals. Even for those survivors who have participated in the criminal justice process, closure can seem a distant possibility.
It doesn't need to be this way. We believe that you have a powerful voice, a powerful story to tell, and something to teach the world. Whatever happened to you, however you were hurt, we believe you, and we believe your story deserves to be told. The criminal justice system may consider you a victim, but we know that you are a survivor. You have faced immense hardships, ones other people couldn't even imagine, but you've come out the other side. It might not feel like it sometimes. It may still hurt more than you can bear, but your life need not be defined by what happened to you.
What matters is what you do next. How do you respond to this terrible trauma? We want to introduce you to your legal options, because you can fight back against the people who hurt you. The rest of your life will be defined by how you respond to this situation. The fact that you were abused or assaulted does not define you. It's how you respond that matters.
Becoming the victim of a sexual crime can change your life forever. Many survivors struggle to recover mentally and sometimes physically from the assault. For some of these survivors, seeing their abuser and others who enabled the abuse brought to justice can provide a sense of relief.
Vermont's Criminal Laws For Sexual Misconduct
Although the scars of the abuse may never heal, the knowledge that a dangerous sexual predator has been removed from the community before they can harm additional victims can be comforting for some survivors.
If you're looking for information on Vermont sexual abuse laws after you or a loved one was victimized, you can find summaries of the relevant criminal statutes here.
You should be aware that state sexual abuse laws frequently change. If you're curious how the criminal justice system may prosecute the person who abused or assaulted you, we recommend asking for more information from an experienced Vermont sexual abuse victims' lawyer. This lawyer can also help you explore your options in civil court, including potential lawsuits against both the perpetrator of the crime and any institutions, organizations, individuals, or other parties who enabled the abuse through negligence.
In many cases of sexual assault and child sexual abuse, there were people who could have done something to stop the crime. From Montpelier and Stowe to Killington and Woodstock, certain people are legally required to report suspected child abuse. A civil sexual abuse lawsuit can help hold these parties accountable and set an example for others to do all that they can to stop these vicious crimes.
Vermont Child Sexual Abuse Laws
In Vermont, sexual crimes against children are generally prosecuted under one or more of the following laws:
Aggravated Sexual Assault Of A Child
A person can be convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child if he or she forces the child to participate in a sexual act without their consent with any of the following circumstances:
- The offender seriously injures the victim or someone else
- The offender is joined or assisted by one or more other people
- Kidnapping is involved
- The offender has a previous conviction for sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault of a child or similar crimes in any jurisdiction of the U.S.
- The offender was armed with a deadly weapon and uses or threatens to use the weapon on the victim or anyone else
- Threats to cause imminent bodily harm to the victim or anyone else
- The use of deadly force
- The victim was subjected to ongoing sexual abuse
This felony is punishable by 25 years to life in prison and fines up to $50,000.
Sexual Exploitation Of A Minor
A person is guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor if he or she participates in a sexual act with a minor and both of the following circumstances apply:
- The person is at least 4 years older than the minor
- The person is in a position of power, authority, or supervision over the minor
This felony is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Lewd Or Lascivious Conduct With Child Under 16
A person is considered guilty of this crime if he or she commits any lewd and lascivious act upon or with the body or any body part of a child under 16 years old, with the intention of arousing or gratifying the sexual desires of such person or the child.
On a first offense, the sentence will be 2-15 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
On a second offense, the punishment is 5 years to life in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
On a third or subsequent offense, the sentence is 10 years to life in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Like most other states, Vermont requires people in certain occupations to report suspected child abuse or neglect within 24 hours of the time information regarding the abuse or neglect was first received or observed.
Mandated reporters in Vermont include:
- Healthcare providers
- Anyone employed by a school district
- Child care workers
- Mental health professionals
- Social workers
- Probation officers
- Police officers
- Any employee, contractor, or grantee of the Agency of Human services who has contact with clients
- Camp owners, administrators, and counselors
- Members of the clergy
Failure to report is punishable by a fine up to $500. Anyone who fails to report with the intent to conceal the abuse may face up to six months in prison and fines up to $1,000. Additionally, failure to report abuse could be grounds for negligence in a civil sexual abuse lawsuit.
General Sexual Assault Statutes In Vermont
Most sexual crimes in Vermont are prosecuted under one of the following four statutes:
A person is guilty of sexual assault in Vermont if he or she engages in a sexual act with another person and compels them to participate in the sexual act:
- Without their consent, or
- By threats or coercion, or
- By placing the other person in fear that any person will suffer imminent bodily injury
- Administering drugs or intoxicants without the other person's knowledge or against their will
- When the victim is under 16 (statutory rape)
- When the victim is under 18 and entrusted to the person's care
This law covers all types of sexual acts, from unwanted sexual touching to rape. Penalties range from 3 years to life in prison and fines up to $25,000.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Anyone who commits sexual assault as defined above will have the charge upgraded to aggravated sexual assault when any of the following circumstances apply:
- The offender causes bodily harm to the victim or another person during the sexual assault
- The offender is joined or assisted by one or more other persons
- Kidnapping is involved
- The offender was armed with a deadly weapon and uses or threatens to use it
- Threats of imminent bodily injury to the victim or another person
- The use of deadly force
- The victim is under 13 years old and the offender is at least 18 years old
- Repeated nonconsensual sexual acts
This felony is punishable by 10 years to life in prison and fines up to $50,000.
Sexual Exploitation Of An Inmate
Correctional employees, contractors, and others who work with the Department of Corrections are prohibited from engaging in sexual acts with anyone they know is:
- Is confined to a correctional facility; or
- Is being supervised by the Department of Corrections while on parole, probation, supervised community sentence, or furlough, where the offender is in a direct supervisory relationship with the person being supervised
This crime is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $10,000.
Sexual Abuse Of A Vulnerable Adult
Employees and volunteers of caregiving facilities are prohibited from engaging in any type of sexual activities with vulnerable adults (someone with special needs).
Punishments for this crime vary depending on circumstances:
- Up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines if the offense involves lewd and lascivious conduct
- Up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000 if the offense involves a sexual act
- Caregivers face up to 7 years and fines up to $10,000 for lewd and lascivious conduct
- Caregivers face up to 25 years and fines up to $10,000 for sexual acts