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Earlier, the House had provided information about nine complaints between 2015 and December 2017. The Senate said at that time it had no records of such complaints, though Jessica Eskeland, public policy specialist for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said she hears anecdotal complaints about Statehouse harassment a few times a month.
"We know that sexual harassment takes place everywhere and here is no exception," she said. "And we know that the number one reason cited for those who have concerns or complaints is fear of retribution."
The bill would also require the Legislature to create a new sexual harassment policy that would be reviewed and revised as needed every two years. Lawmakers on the committee said they want to review recently enacted policies in neighboring Maine and Vermont.
Aside from Feltes, only the New Hampshire Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence testified in support of the bill. No one testified against it. Gov. Chris Sununu, speaking to reporters later in the day, said he had no problem with the idea of creating a new human resources position at the State House.
Lyn Schollett is the executive director of New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence in Concord. She said Wednesday’s report shows just how prevalent sexual harassment is in the workplace. “Employers really need to have strong policies and they need to take every report of sexual harassment seriously,” Schollett said.
She said at their crisis centers last year, 116 people came in specifically to seek help after being sexually harassed at work.
“What we know is many more victims don’t come forward for the exact reasons outlined in this report, because they are afraid of losing their job,” Schollett said.
While the bill has broad support, some members of the victim advocacy community – including the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence – said they can’t fully endorse the proposal. The coalition supports the regulation and oversight of visitation centers but it opposes the use of state tax dollars to fund their expansion in New Hampshire.
“We feel that the establishment of 10 brick-and-mortar visitation centers across the state sends the wrong message to courts: that the rights of a violent parent supersede a child’s physical and emotional right to safety,” said Amanda Grady Sexton, the coalition’s public affairs director.
Instead, she said, the coalition believes in strengthening the state’s existing child protection laws to ensure mechanisms are in place so that an abusive parent is held accountable prior to being granted visitation or custody rights.
“Officer Baxter’s example of a man coming to a visitation center with a loaded gun is exactly why I oppose this bill,” said Massachusetts attorney Karen McCall, who worked in legal services in New Hampshire and, at one time, the coalition. “Expanding supervised visitation centers is a green light to the judicial system to feel like they have a safe place to send people who have no business being around their children.”
The surviving family members of murder victims whose cases have gone cold offered heart-wrenching accounts of loss at a legislative hearing on Tuesday, hoping to convince lawmakers to expand the state’s Cold Case Unit by adding two more attorneys.
Kathy Lynn Gloddy, 13, was last seen on the evening of Nov. 21, 1971, near downtown Franklin. Her body was found the next day.
“I will never give up faith that the people who killed my sister will be brought to justice,” said Janet Gloddy Young, whose sister, Kathy Gloddy, was found raped and beaten to death in 1971 in the woods off Chance Pond Road in Franklin.
“Her case has never been solved, but I know in my heart that it still can be,” she said.
The bipartisan legislation has the full support of the Attorney General’s Office, which says the positions are necessary to make a serious dent in New Hampshire’s unsolved murder cases.
“Our victims deserve justice,” MacDonald told lawmakers Tuesday. “Our 128 families deserve answers. And there is no statute of limitations for the crime of murder.”
For the families, the extra manpower offers the chance for something more: closure. Many seeking updates on their cases have endured twists and turns.
Janet Gloddy Young last saw her sister in November 1971. Kathy Gloddy, 13, was found in Franklin, Young told the committee. She had been raped, run over and killed.
Through the years, Young kept after the investigation even when her faith in state and local police dimmed. She told her story in 2009 to push to get the cold case unit opened in the first place, and then kept an open mind as she waited for new leads that didn’t come.
Ten years later, Young said a more robust investigative team could make the difference.
“Her case has never been solved, but I know in my heart that it still can be,” she told the committee.
"The last time I saw my sister alive was Sunday, Nov. 21, 1971," said Janet Gloddy Young, the sister of victim Kathy Lynn Gloddy. "It makes 48 years now."
There are 128 unsolved murders classified as cold cases in New Hampshire. State Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said recent advances give investigators opportunities to close cases that were once considered unsolvable.
"New technologies and new forensics literally every day provide new opportunities in many of these cases," MacDonald said.
If the bill is passed, the two attorneys would cost the state $220,000 in fiscal year 2020. MacDonald said it's a price that should be paid.
"Our victims deserve justice," he said. "Our 128 families deserve answers."
Amanda Grady Sexton, director of public affairs for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, noted that FBI statistics show that New Hampshire has a higher rate of rape than the rest of the country.
“We should be focusing our efforts on preventing sexual violence and trafficking, not on making New Hampshire a magnet for traffickers and pimps,” Sexton said.
Among those in attendance was Tiffany Roberts, a survivor of domestic and sexual violence. Now she's an advocate for victims.
“We still have so much work to do,” she said. “There's been so much sharing of stories, but we need to honor that with action.”
"Should this shutdown continue beyond when those funds are available, crisis centers in New Hampshire won't have the resources to be able to provide life-saving services," said Madison Lightfoot with the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.