Accountability, Healing, and Justice for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse
Organizations and individuals who allow and perpetrate sexual abuse of a child must be held accountable. The psychological, emotional, and physical impact of such an experience can alter the course of a victim’s life. No child should face such trauma.
The Berman & Simmons Sexual Abuse Survivors Practice Team specializes in sexual abuse cases and provides compassionate counsel for individuals of all ages who suffered sexual abuse as children. We are the regional leader in sex abuse cases and work nationally with other law firms to guide clients through what can be a very difficult and emotional process.
In 2021, Practice Group Leader Michael Bigos testified in the legislature on several bills to help survivors and was present when Maine Governor Janet Mills signed the new law to extend the statute of limitations. We’ve also presented and taught other trial lawyers at a national convention how to find insurance coverage for victims of sexual abuse and win these challenging, yet vitally important cases.
If you experienced child sexual abuse at school, as part of a religious organization, attending daycare, or while participating in a youth sports activity, we welcome the opportunity to assist you in obtaining the healing, closure, and justice you deserve.
You Can Now Pursue a Child Sex Abuse Claim in Maine No Matter How Long Ago the Abuse Occurred
Each case of childhood sexual abuse is as unique as it is tragic. Similarly, the way each victim reacts to an act or pattern of abuse is also unique. Many victims bury the pain, trauma, or perceived shame of their experience as a necessary survival mechanism. For many years, those who carried such burdens alone for years or decades until they were ready to come forward could not file a claim in Maine and seek justice under the law because the abuse occurred too far in the past.
But Maine legislators later recognized that it should never be too late for child sexual abuse victims to hold perpetrators responsible for the pain and harm they caused. In 2000, Maine expanded the statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits, but not for everyone. That meant many adult victims of child sexual abuse still could not pursue claims against their abusers.
Berman & Simmons was a leader in helping get the law changed and was there when Maine Governor Janet Mills signed the bill into law.
Now, any victim of childhood sexual abuse can file a lawsuit against their abuser no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. The new law takes effect on October 18, 2021. If you were a victim of child sexual abuse and decided not to take legal action because you thought it was too late to do so, Berman & Simmons stands ready to help you move forward with your claim immediately.
We Recognize and Respect the Courage It Takes to Come Forward
The decision to reach out to a lawyer and potentially sue your perpetrators and others who may be responsible for your pain is a difficult and monumental one. We recognize the incredible courage it takes for you to come forward and share your story and that it may trigger or resurface traumatic memories and intense emotions.
Our lawyers have received trauma-informed training and specialize in working with survivors. We will work with you in a manner that acknowledges the difficulty of discussing your experiences. With empathy, respect, patience, and a steadfast dedication to your well-being, we will listen to you and guide you through the process at every step. Our lawyers are committed to maintaining confidentiality, respecting personal boundaries, and standing up against people and institutions intent on silencing your voice.
Maine’s First Trauma-informed Legal Team for Survivor Claims
Survivors deserve the best representation. That’s why Berman & Simmons sought professional training from experts in the field of sexual assault response services to teach us the best practices in working with survivors of sexual assault and abuse. We will work hard to give you choices, provide a supportive attorney-client relationship, and help hold perpetrators accountable and win your case. By bringing your claim, you can help prevent future abuse and keep the community safer.
We are also committed to forming the best team to represent you. On select cases, you may work with a group of one to four lawyers to match the firepower needed to overcome the legal battle – some are larger than others – to win your case. As a Berman & Simmons client, you won’t go through any of this alone.
Bringing Accountability to Institutional Abuse
As one of the largest youth organizations in America, Boy Scouts of America is responsible for screening troop leaders and investigating complaints within the organization. Official Boy Scout records show that over 12,000 cases of abuse were reported to the organization between 1944 and 2016.
To date, over 85,000 people have made sexual abuse claims against the Scouts, with accusers ranging in age from eight to 93. We are taking on the organization because they failed to protect the children who trusted them. We are a leader in Maine claims against the Boy Scouts of America in the bankruptcy litigation.
Child sexual abuse occurs across religions and denominations. Children and families trust the religious leaders of their community, and that trust is sometimes abused. The Catholic Church receives hundreds of accusations of abuse by clerics every year, with minimal response from the Vatican. Our job is to support you regardless of your beliefs, your background, or the institution’s size.
Currently, we are spearheading several claims against the Catholic Diocese in Maine.
Private Schools, and Private Youth Sports, Activities, and Clubs
Leaders of private schools and those involved in youth sports, activities, sleepaway camps, and clubs are responsible for the safety of the children with whom they work. When they fail, children suffer. Coaches, teachers, and volunteers are looked up to by the children entrusted to them. We work to hold institutions accountable for their actions.
Other Settings for Sexual Abuse
Many child sexual abusers are respected members of their community who have easy access to children in doctors offices, schools, clubs, and churches. But sexual abuse can occur in other settings, including the home. Sadly, most sexual abuse of children takes place in a residence, often by a relative or trusted family member. Sexual abuse of patients by medical providers has also been reported, while sexual assault of college students continues to be an underreported problem.
Committed and Compassionate Attorneys Ready to Help You Move Forward
Every day, the lawyers of Berman & Simmons fight on behalf of those who cannot win alone. We make it our goal to bring justice to those who need it most, and we will stop at nothing to achieve it. Our staff and attorneys will listen to your story and provide the support you need. We will help you by offering solutions, legal advice, and closure. Whether or not you move forward with a lawsuit, our discussions will always remain completely confidential.
If you suffered sexual abuse as a child and are ready to speak with one of our Maine child sexual abuse attorneys and learn more about your rights, please contact us to arrange a free, confidential initial consultation.
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Is there a statute of limitations for sex abuse cases?
Most of the time yes. Maine changed its laws in the early 1990s to eliminate the statute of limitations for minors who were sexually abused. Your case is not over just because you didn’t take action right after the incident; it takes many survivors years to come forward. We are here to support you when you are ready.
Does it matter if I didn’t tell anybody about the sex abuse?
No, it’s okay if you didn’t report the sex abuse when it occurred. It takes courage to come forward and many survivors are too afraid or confused to do so at the time of the abuse. We are honored that you would confide in us and we will support and listen to your story now, whether or not you have told anyone else. We strive to earn your trust and we will.
Our lawyers are trained to handle your case with discretion and sensitivity to ensure you feel comfortable sharing details of your experience, no matter how long ago it was. It’s important that you share your story and we will help you through that process.
I’ve been sexually abused. Will people believe me?
Yes, we will help tell your story in the most believable, persuasive way. You may have been dismissed or ignored in the past or people may not have believed you. From our first phone call, we will always believe you and we will take the time to advocate on your behalf to ensure others believe you too.
Can you help me make sure this happens to no one else?
Yes, we will help you make your claim and highlight what you experienced so it doesn’t happen again. Being brave enough to come forward is the first step towards making sure the people and institutions responsible for the abuse are exposed and held accountable. While we cannot end sexual abuse altogether, with your help in bringing a claim, we can make our communities safer.
Can I trust you?
Yes, but we want to earn your trust. It all starts with a phone call. From there you can get to know our lawyers and decide for yourself if we are the people you want to trust with your story. We realize this situation is very difficult for you to face. Starting with our first conversation and throughout our relationship with you, everything you tell us is confidential and you don’t have to tell us anything you don’t want to.
Will I have to testify against the person who sexually abused me?
Maybe. Oftentimes you don’t have to testify, but if you choose to, we will make sure you’re well prepared. Whether you’re facing a sexual predator or an institution that failed to protect you, we will help you to make the best choices and prepare you for all the scenarios and possible outcomes . We will respect your decision to testify or not and make sure you feel safe, regardless of what you decide.
Will I have to go to trial someday?
Maybe. A well-prepared case will often settle. However, trials are sometimes unavoidable if a case is to be resolved in the best interest of the survivor. Whether or not we go to trial, we will be with you every step of the way from our first meeting to the final resolution of the case. We know how important this is in your life and will not stop until we’ve done everything in our power to help you.
Will I have to face the person who sexually abused me?
Most likely not. Most cases don’t require the survivor to testify, but if yours does, our lawyers will ensure that you are fully prepared and feel safe during the process. If you are not required to testify, or a settlement is reached before going to trial, we will do everything in our power to make sure you don’t have to face the accused if you do not want to.
What if I want a female lawyer?
We have both male and female lawyers who handle sex abuse cases and they often work together on larger cases. If you have a preference, let us know.