A woman in Burlington, Massachusetts has filed a civil lawsuit, alleging that her uncle raped her repeatedly as a child, then also subjected her to sexual abuse from as many as 10 other men.
The lawsuit was filed this past week in Middlesex Superior Court. It alleges that Domenic A. Previte Jr. of Waltham, Massachusetts committed the abuse. Furthermore, it states that Previte later confessed to the crime of rape, in a letter to his niece that he allegedly signed. In the letter, Previte reportedly said things such as “I admired and respected you and loved you as my own daughter…Somehow things got twisted…I had confused my love for you with sex.” Whether this is true or not, of course, remains to be seen. The niece, Rosanne Sliney, now 48, claims that her family pressured her to execute a document in 1991 that released her uncle, Previte, from any responsibility, in exchange for a payment from him in the amount of $26,500. Sliney now alleges that she did not understand the meaning of the document, because she signed it when she was in her late twenties, and had a damaged emotional condition due to the abuse. She claims the abuse started when she was five years old and it continued up until she was 14. Sliney says she had been told that Previte would provide for her for the rest of her life, but the lawsuit against him states that Previte has failed to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills related to Sliney’s mental-health problems stemming from the abuse.
Civil lawsuits like these, which seek damages for the harm and emotional injuries caused as the result of rape or sexual assaults that may have occurred years in the past, illustrate the increasingly long arm of the law. Statutes of Limitations, which bar many types of legal actions after a certain number of years has passed from when the act occurred, can be very complicated. As a Massachusetts sex abuse victims attorney, I can tell my readers that a legal doctrine called the “discovery rule,” has resulted in extending the statute of limitations for these types of cases. Whether or not this mechanism will apply in any particular case can be a complex matter and can only be answered following a thorough analysis of the case facts.