CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire has reached its first settlement with someone who was physically and sexually assaulted at the state’s youth detention center, attorneys for the victim said this week.
The state faces more than 700 lawsuits alleging abuse stretching back six decades at the Sununu Youth Services Center, formerly called the Youth Development Center. As an alternative to litigation, lawmakers established a $100 million settlement fund with a two-year application period that started last month.
Attorneys at the Shaheen & Gordon law firm said they have settled one claim so far on behalf of a male client who was abused at the Manchester facility in the 1970s. Noting that litigation could take years, they said they plan to withdraw their 39 other lawsuits and pursue claims through the settlement fund instead.
“We look forward to helping obtain many more recoveries for these victims who have waited far too long for justice,” said attorney Anthony Carr.
Under the settlement fund, victims of sexual assault are eligible for base awards ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 that can be increased based on the frequency of abuse plus nearly a dozen aggravating factors, including abuse that resulted in pregnancy, perpetration by multiple people or continued abuse for more than two years. Individual payments for sexual abuse will be limited to $1.5 million, while payments for physical abuse will be limited to $150,000.
Ten men were charged in April 2021 with either sexually assaulting or acting as accomplices to the assault of more than a dozen teenagers from 1994 to 2007, while an 11th man faces charges related to a pre-trial facility in Concord. Six trials have been scheduled between this summer and July 2024.