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Bills would create higher burden of proof for victims of sexual assault and would make it more difficult to prosecute sex offenders
On Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the New Hampshire Legislative Office Building in Concord, Room 204, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would make it more difficult to convict sexual predators in New Hampshire. 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, and this new standard would only apply to crimes of sexual assault.
The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence strongly opposes this bill and will be joined by several prosecutors, mental health experts, and victims of sexual assault at the hearing on Tuesday to testify in opposition to HB 106.
“This bill would perpetuate the faulty idea that victims lie about being raped,” said Amanda Grady Sexton, Public Policy Director of the Coalition. “It also sends a message to the public that here in New Hampshire, a sexual assault victim’s sworn testimony isn’t good enough, even if it’s been viewed as credible by 12 jurors.”
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. This bill not only supports that strategy, but gives rapists even more protection when they use this method.
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. When victims do report in New Hampshire, less than 3% of perpetrators ever plead guilty or are convicted. This bill would make it even more difficult to bring sex offenders to justice.
The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence is asking the public to reach out to the state’s Criminal Justice committee members to ask them to strengthen NH's sexual assault laws - not to support a bill that makes it more difficult to hold sexual predators accountable.
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 www.nhcadsv.org.