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The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence, pushed back against the decision last week, saying sexual assault survivors are not inherently biased as jurors and are capable of serving on juries without bias.
“Considering that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 20 men in N.H. have been sexually assaulted, a jury of one’s peers will likely always include sexual assault survivors,” said director of public police affairs Amanda Grady Sexton in an emailed statement.
On Wednesday, she said the family’s decision to not pursue a second trial was not surprising.
“The system is not designed to protect the privacy or dignity of the victim, making it even more difficult for them to rebuild their lives,” she wrote in an email. “... Our thoughts are with the courageous young survivor in this case, and we stand with his family in their request for privacy during this time.”
Amanda Grady Sexton, director of public affairs for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence, said sexual assault survivors are not inherently biased as jurors and are capable of serving on juries without bias.
“Considering that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 20 men in N.H. have been sexually assaulted, a jury of one’s peers will likely always include sexual assault survivors,” she said in an emailed statement.
“It is extremely concerning that jurors who were survivors of childhood sexual abuse were examined in open court without proper notice of the rights afforded in N.H.’s victim’s bill of rights. It’s critical that our criminal justice system recognize that many citizens have experienced victimization, and to ensure that jurors are also treated with the dignity and privacy that they deserve.”
A similar phenomenon has happened in New Hampshire, said Madison Lightfoot, a spokeswoman for the N.H. Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
“New Hampshire’s crisis centers have seen an increase in calls to their confidential hotlines, as well as an uptick in community engagement on social media,” Lightfoot wrote in an emailed statement. “Many survivors are indicating that their reason for reaching out for support is directly related to the national spotlight on these issues right now.”
The state has a hotline available for victims of sexual assault.
According to the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, crisis center advocates are available to provide free and confidential support for victims.
AdvertisementThe 24-hour hotline number is 1-800-277-5570.
A hotline is also available for victims of domestic violence at 1-866-644-3574.
“I think the parallels between what happened on Capitol Hill today and what is happening in New Hampshire tonight are striking,” said Lyn Schollett, executive director of NHCADSV. “What we have seen here tonight is elected officials, leaders and community members supporting victims, believing victims.”
Survivor Tina Smith said she tuned into the hearings, which preceded Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing for the United States Supreme Court, set to go forward as planned Friday.
“I want to hear both sides,” said Smith, who lives in Concord. “I believe her because I know how hard it is. There is no other reason for her to come forward and do this at this time.”
Smith said people need to listen and treat survivors with respect.
“There are so many reasons that we don't tell our stories,” she said. “Mine was I was afraid I would hurt my mother's feelings. For (Ford) to do that, people have to admire that.”
Advocates hope that, regardless of how the confirmation process turns out, Ford speaking out will help other survivors in their own situations.
New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Director of Public Affairs Amanda Grady Sexton said, "We thank Sen. Hennessey for her bravery and strength, and for always demanding that victims be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. The comments made by our president today were misinformed and dangerous, and show a complete lack of understanding about the dynamics of sexual assault."
The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence opposed the request and welcomed the vote.
"Today's decision sends a strong message that NH leaders take the crime of domestic violence, and offender accountability, seriously," Amanda Grady Sexton, a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said in a statement. "Today, our thoughts are with Wanda Olsen, who will never be pardoned from the death sentence given to her by her killer."
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