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Denver attorney plans to file dozens of lawsuits on behalf of sexual abuse victims thanks to new law

Abuse lawsuits
Posted at 5:00 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 19:20:34-05

DENVER — A Denver attorney is getting ready to file dozens of lawsuits on behalf of sexual abuse victims whose statute of limitations had expired.

Michael Nimmo says he has more than 20 clients who have reached out to him seeking civil litigation against their abusers ahead of a new Colorado law taking effect.

Senate Bill 88, which was signed into law in July, will give victims who were minors when they were abused between 1960 and now a chance to seek civil action.

These victims will have a three-year window under the new law to seek justice. They can file claims until Jan. 1, 2025.

“The vast majority of child sex abuse goes unreported because children often lack the knowledge needed to recognize the sexual abuse or lack the ability to articulate that they’ve been abused,” Nimmo said.

During a press conference Thursday, two of the victims Nimmo plans to file lawsuits on behalf of spoke publicly about their abuse for the first time.

Meg Hargett says she was 14 when she was sexually abused by her teacher in the Saint Vrain Valley School District in the 1970s.

“I am a survivor of multiple sexual assaults by a teacher I had as a child," she said. "Due to threats, fear, shame and confusion I could not tell anyone about my abuse."

Hargett is now working with Nimmo to build her case and prove that other students were also abused by the same teacher.

Brian Barzee, meanwhile, says he was abused by a Catholic priest named Father James Moreno, who, last December, was named in a report by the Attorney General’s office outlining misconduct over several decades by Catholic clergy.

Barzee claims he was abused repeatedly for years when he was in high school but has not come forward with his story or sought civil action until now.

“I learned that I wasn’t just a sole survivor, and I was able to come out of my humiliation to reach out to others and to defend myself after many years of just being silent," he said.

Cases of sexual abuse from decades ago can be difficult to prove. However, Nimmo says he's working on collecting evidence that is still available, such as witness testimony and documentation to help prove his clients’ claims.

He’s also encouraging more victims to come forward when the window opens.

Victims can begin filing lawsuits on Jan. 1, 2022.

“It’s only because of this new law that any of us are ever going to have a voice,” Barzee said.

In April, Gov. Polis signed a companion bill, Senate Bill 73, that abolishes deadlines for future victims of child sexual abuse.