Montana Child Sex Abuse Attorney
Child sex crimes can include any sexual contact of a minor under 18 years of age, including sexual abuse, assault, or molestation of minors. Child sex crimes are serious and come with heavy penalties in the state of Montana. As the victim of a child sex crime, you may have the right to seek justice and financial compensation from the offender, either during or after a criminal trial.
If you or a loved one is in this situation, contact Heenan & Cook, PLLC, for a free confidential case evaluation.
Why Choose Heenan & Cook to Prosecute a Montana Child Sex Abuse Case?
Heenan & Cook, PLLC is a law firm passionate about protecting the rights of sex crime victims in the community. John Heenan has a strong history of representing child sexual abuse victims across Montana, including the tragic Miles City abuse case. John has represented dozens of children and their families across Montana against perpetrators of child sexual assaults and abuse as well as churches, schools, and organizations where abuse occured.
Why choose us as your legal representatives?
- We have more than 30 years of experience counseling personal injury victims.
- We have extensive experience handling sex crime cases involving child victims.
- We care about clients, and do not charge for our services unless we win.
Our lawyers are not afraid of taking child sex crime cases to court, if necessary, for justice and fair compensation. We have years of settlement negotiation and litigation experience. With that said, all of the lawyers and staff at Heenan & Cook are trauma informed and understand the importance of protecting a child victim from unnecessary additional emotional trauma. With a track record of experience and proven results, we have been proud to help our clients avoid trial through substantial settlements.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer for a Montana Child Sex Abuse Case?
A child sex crime case can be complex, emotional, and hard to navigate as a victim. Speaking about your experience with lawyers, insurance claims adjusters, police officers, and investigators can be difficult on its own, without also having to worry about someone infringing upon your rights.
Hiring a lawyer will ensure you protect your rights and prevent the defendant’s insurance company or attorney from taking advantage of you. It will also maximize your odds of obtaining compensation for your losses.
Who Is Liable in a Child Sex Crime Case?
It is possible to file a civil claim against the perpetrator in a child sex crime case, in pursuit of financial recovery for physical, emotional, and financial damages, as long as the victim files a claim within the state’s deadline. However, other parties may also share liability for the incident.
If the sexual abuse cases happened on school grounds, for example, the school may share liability if it reasonably could have prevented the incident, such as through better hiring procedures or more reliable child supervision. A lawyer can help identify all potential defendants in a child sex crime case.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Claims in Montana?
The general statute of limitations for tort actions such as sexual abuse is two years. Claims for negligence such as negligent supervision or entrustment are three years.
Montana has a special statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse extending it to the later of (1) age 27 years or (2) 3 years “after the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the injury was caused by the act of childhood sexual abuse.” The “discovery” rule basically says that the claim must be filed within 3 years of the victim realizing that problems they’ve had in their life (relationship issues, trust issues, etc.) are related to their abuse as a child.
In 2019, in reaction to the Miles City abuse case handled by Heenan & Cook, the Montana legislature also enacted an extension to the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse where the abuser has admitted to the abuse in writing or via recording.
Who can bring a sex abuse claim in Montana?
The victim of the abuse is the one who has “standing” to bring a civil lawsuit in Montana. When the victim of abuse is a child, that means the child is the one who has the claim to be prosecuted. In practice, when there is a child victim, an adult is designated as the “Personal Representative” to handle the prosecution of the case. But, any money recovered on behalf of the child goes to the child. In practice, this means that a special trust or conservatorship is set up to maintain the settlement money, and a custodian is appointed by the Court to make sure the money is being used for the best interests of the child for things such as future counseling and care.
The conservatorship can last until the child is well into adulthood, and the money in the conservatorship trust can grow through prudent investing to make sure there is enough money to support and pay for a lifetime of counseling. Parents and guardians of children who have been sexually abused are often grateful to know that they are not the ones who will recover money from a lawsuit.
What are the advantages of filing a civil sex abuse claim?
There are many advantages to bringing a civil sex abuse case, but the most important is that you are in control. The legal process can be an effective and therapeutic tool to facilitate the healing process for many survivors. It presents survivors an opportunity to regain their power by holding the perpetrator, and other responsible parties, accountable.
At the beginning of every sex abuse case, we work with the victim to understand what their desired outcome is and what a “win” would be to them. This can differ dramatically depending on the client and their circumstances. We then work with our client to chart out a path that gives them the best possibility of the desired outcome. For instance, some clients want the case resolved early and without a public trial. Others feel different and want “the light shined” on their abuser and those complicit. Each client and circumstance is different, and we work to craft a specific plan with our clients on every case. For most sex abuse clients, monetary recovery is not the highest priority. But, money certainly helps with future counseling and other bills. And, beyond that, money is the way that wrongdoers acknowledge guilt and fault in our system.
How much does it cost to pursue a sexual abuse claim?
The sexual abuse attorneys at Heenan & Cook pursue all claims on a contingency fee basis, meaning assault victims and survivors never pay anything out-of-pocket to pursue the claim. This type of arrangement incentivizes the lawyers handling the claim to pursue the claim efficiently. Learn more about the contingency fee arrangement here.
Can I remain anonymous in a sexual abuse case?
Many clients know they’ve done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, and are more than happy to pursue a civil lawsuit in their own name. Others, however, are rightly reluctant. In Montana, there is a process we can and do go through with sex abuse victims who wish to remain anonymous in the civil litigation process by listing the victim by initials or “Jane Doe” or “John Doe.” This is a great comfort to many of our clients.
What damages can be recovered in a Montana sex abuse case?
Each case is individual and therefore it is very difficult to quote someone in the abstract as to what their sex abuse claim is worth. A few years ago, a Montana jury awarded $35 million to a sex abuse victim. While the verdict was ultimately overturned on legal grounds, the verdict demonstrates the risk to abusers and institutions who enable abuse in sex abuse cases. Heenan & Cook was lead counsel in a case involving the Miles City School District, which resulted in a $9 million settlement. The firm has been involved in several other sex abuse cases in Montana resulting in settlements in the six and seven figures.
The value of the claim is dependent upon a number of factors including the specific facts, the level of emotional distress and other damages, and the amount of insurance or resources available to pay the claim.
Is the Intake Process at Heenan & Cook Confidential?
The intake specialists at Heenan & Cook have all been trained in Trauma-Informed care and are sensitive to not retraumatize sex abuse victims through the intake process. We further make it easy for potential clients to reach out to us on their terms- via phone, email or text- whichever is most comfortable. If you contact Heenan & Cook about a potential sex abuse case, you can trust that your potential case will be considered and questions answered in a safe space.
Schedule a Free Consultation
If you or someone you love is the victim of a child sex crime in Montana, do not wait to contact our attorneys. A lawyer from Heenan & Cook, PLLC, can answer your questions and give you information about your case at no cost or obligation.
All consultations are always 100% confidential between you and your attorney. Discuss your rights and options against a perpetrator or other parties. Call (406) 839-9091 to schedule your consultation today.