By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Attorney General John Formella sent out a press release Tuesday saying the state paid its first victim the maximum $1.5 million settlement from the $100 million fund set aside for victims of sexual and physical abuse they suffered as children under state custody at the Youth Development Center and other facilities.
“We are pleased the Settlement Fund Process is working for victims. We can confirm that we have resolved the first claim at the maximum amount available under RSA 21-M:11-a of $1.5 million,” Formella said.
David Vicinanzo and Rus Rilee, attorneys for 1,100 state abuse victims said in a statement the state hid exactly what happened to the survivor, but believes the state undervalued the settlement.
“Once again, the State on this second settlement (out of 1,300+ cases) has hidden the details of the abuse so that no one can measure the appropriateness of the settlement. If the amount is $1.5 million in the state’s low-ball process, the abuse must have been horrific and repetitive, meaning it was worth numerous times more than $1.5 million. So, the state kept millions for itself that should have been paid to the child victim. And the victim was ripped off by the same amount,” the statement said.
They pointed to Tuesday’s jury award against Donald Trump in an adult case of $5 million for a single assault.
“If that assault were submitted to the state’s unfair process, the state might decide to pay nothing because it did not ‘believe’ the claim, or at best pay a low ball amount nearly $5 million less than what a jury determined,” Rilee and Vicinanzo said.
They added that “Every time the state claims it is ‘trauma informed,’ victims are insulted.”
Formella has touted the state process claiming the victims who opted for filing a lawsuit through the courts will take years before the process will run its course.
“We anticipate more and more frequent resolutions in the coming months as the process gains momentum,” Formella said. “There are currently more than 50 claims filed, with more expected. We hope that victims who are considering filing with the claim fund will be encouraged by today’s news.”
Vicinanzo and Rilee say the claim fund through the state is a failure.
“After five months, settling two cases for low ball amounts out of more than 1,300 cases can only be described as an abject failure. It won’t improve until the state stops callously ignoring the victims it abused and makes the reasonable changes they have respectfully requested,” they said.