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NHCADSV STATEMENT ON The NH Senate’s Disappointing Vote Against Closing the So-Called “Howie Leung Loophole”
March 13, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Amanda Grady Sexton (603) 548-9377, firstname.lastname@example.org
The NH Senate’s Disappointing Vote Against Closing the So-Called “Howie Leung Loophole”
Last night the Senate voted against closing the loopholes in New Hampshire’s sexual assault laws brought to light as a result of the case against Primo “Howie” Leung, a former teacher at Concord High School and camp counselor in Newton, Massachusetts.
Last year many citizens in Concord were shocked to learn that adults working at schools and summer camps in New Hampshire are legally permitted to have sexual penetration with teens as young as 16 who they hold a position of authority over. Advocacy from these citizens led to the introduction of HB1240 in the House, and SB468, and SB572 in the Senate.
Although the House unanimously approved a comprehensive reform bill this week, 13 Senators voted against reform and instead passed a watered-down version of a bill that only provides protections against a narrow group of adults who have authority over minors. This bill falls stunningly short of closing the so-called “Howie Leung Loophole,” and still allows gymnastics teachers, camp counselors, scout leaders, and faith leaders to have sexual contact or penetration with 16-year-olds under their direct care or supervision.
Howie Leung stands trial for committing sexual crimes against a child while working as a camp counselor in MA, yet this bill fails to criminalize sexual contact or penetration between an adult camp counselor and their 16 year old camper in the State of New Hampshire. In addition, the amended bill also leaves in place the outdated notion that a prosecutor must prove coercion to show that an adult in a position of authority sexually abused a child, when the most common tactics used by abusers are emotional pressure, shame and blame. Finally, the bill still allows those working in schools to use the defense that a student “consented” to sexual contact in order to escape their crimes.
“Adults in New Hampshire, regardless of their employment status or job description, must be held accountable and should not be allowed to manipulate their position of authority over the youth in their care. Youth in New Hampshire have a right to learn and develop new skills in safe learning and recreational environments without having to worry about being sexually exploited by trusted adults. No teenager should ever have to worry about how to handle inappropriate advances from the very people who are charged with protecting or educating them. We urge the House to protect all kids by re-writing this flawed bill.” said Amanda Grady Sexton, Public Affairs Director for the Coalition.
The Coalition would like to express its gratitude to Senator Jeb Bradley, who introduced a floor amendment to address the deficiencies in this bill. We would like to also thank Senator Sharon Carson, Senator David Starr, Senator Bob Giuda, Senator Shannon Chandley, Senator James Gray, Senator Harold French, Senator John Reagan, Senator Regina Birdsell, Senator Chuck Morse, and Senator Ruth Ward for their support of Senator Bradley’s efforts to pass comprehensive legislation.
We encourage anyone who has been sexually or physically abused, no matter when the abuse occurred, to come forward to seek confidential and compassionate support or information through one of the 13 member programs of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Caring advocates are available 24/7 at the Coalition’s statewide hotline at 1-800-277-5570.
About the Coalition:
NHCADSV is a statewide network of 13 independent member programs committed to ending sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking, through direct services to victims, community education, and public policy advocacy. 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. For more information visit www.nhcadsv.org.