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New Bills Question the Credibility of Sexual Assault Victims

Bills would create higher burden of proof for victims of sexual assault and would make it more difficult to prosecute sex offenders


New Hampshire Legislators are currently considering two House bills that would make it more difficult to convict sexual predators.

HB 106 provides that a victim's testimony in a sexual assault case shall require corroboration when the defendant has no prior convictions for sexual assault. This bill would create a new burden of proof for victims of sexual assault that would require either DNA evidence or an eyewitness to the assault. This new standard would only apply to crimes of sexual assault, not to victims of any other crime.

HB 284 would change the term "victim" to "complainant" in sexual assault cases. If passed, any person subjected to any other crime would be referred to as a victim, except for those who have been sexually assaulted.

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence strongly opposes these bills and will be joined by several prosecutors, law enforcement officials, mental health experts, and victims of sexual assault at the hearing on Tuesday to testify in opposition to HB 106 and HB 284.

“These bills would perpetuate the faulty idea that victims lie about being raped,” said Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Affairs for the Coalition.  “They also send a message to the public that here in New Hampshire, a sexual assault victim is less credible than a victim of any other crime.”

Sexual offenders are savvy, and strategically target vulnerable victims at times when they are confident they won't be detected. Oftentimes, offenders position themselves in places of authority or trust, posturing themselves in such a way that they seem more credible than their victim. HB 106 not only supports that strategy, but gives rapists even more protection when they use this method.

Both HB 106 and HB 284 are attempts to question the credibility of sexual assault victims, who already face significant challenges in coming forward and seeking justice. Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes in the country. Nationally, approximately 2 out of every 3 sexual assaults will never be reported to law enforcement. These bills would make it even more difficult to bring sex offenders to justice when victims do come forward to report.

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence is asking the public to reach out to New Hampshire lawmakers to ask them to strengthen NH's sexual assault laws - not to support bills that make it more difficult to hold sexual predators accountable.

For more information, contact Amanda Grady Sexton, Public Affairs Director, at or at 603-548-9377.

Media re: HB 106 and HB 284:

Proposed changes in sexual assault statute called 'Pedophile Protection Act', Union Leader, 1-18-2017

Critics: Sexual Assault Law Changes Dangerous, Union Leader, 1-14-2017

Nonprofit seeks change in jury instruction for sex assault cases, Union Leader,  1-14-2017

The Harmful Consequences of a Bad Bill, Concord Monitor, 1-13-2017

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (NHCADSV) is a statewide network committed to ending sexual violence, domestic violence and stalking. The NHCADSV and its 13 member programs do not discriminate based on gender, age, health status (including HIV-positive), physical, mental, or emotional ability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socio-economic status, race, national origin, immigration status, or religious or political affiliation. Online at



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