Governor Sununu, Sununu Youth Services Center, Sexual and Physical Abuse Fund NH – NBC Boston

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has signed into law a $100 million fund to settle complaints of sexual and physical abuse at a state-run youth detention center.

The legislature had approved the establishment of a fund to compensate those who were abused as children at the Sununu Youth Services Center, formerly the Youth Development Center. The Manchester center has been under criminal investigation since 2019, and 11 former workers were arrested last year. Nearly 450 former residents have sued the state, with allegations implicating more than 150 staff members from 1963 to 2018.

Victims of sexual abuse would be eligible for payments of up to $1.5 million each, while payments to victims of physical abuse would be capped at $150,000.

The center is named after former Governor John H. Sununu, the governor’s father.

“This new law creates a claims process that provides a trauma-informed, victim-centered alternative to traditional litigation,” State Attorney General John Formella said in a news release Friday. “No victim is forced to use this process, but I hope this bill will provide a much-needed path to healing and compensation for many of these victims.”

The settlement fund legislation has faced opposition from victims’ attorneys, as well as state and national organizations that advocate for sexual assault survivors.

“Victims know that this bill is not victim-friendly and is intended to benefit the state more than them,” the lawyers said in a statement on Saturday. “We will continue to fight every day to change the way the state treats its vulnerable children and for real justice for the hundreds of children gravely injured by decades of sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the state. .”

The state currently spends $13 million a year to operate the 144-bed facility, though the typical population is now about a dozen teenagers. The biennial budget signed last June included a mandate to wrap it up by March 2023, but its fate remains uncertain after lawmakers were unable to agree on a closure process this year.

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