As Lizzi Marriott's family looks on, bills protecting NH sex crime victims signed into law
CONCORD — With the Marriott family looking on, Gov. Chris Sununu signed four bills into law aimed at improving the rights of sexual crime victims in New Hampshire.
"It’s ceremonies like these that represent the best and most important work that we do in state government, and that is protecting our most vulnerable citizens and giving a voice to those who are unable to speak for themselves," Sununu said.
SB 9 strengthens NH's Rape Shield Law to make sure private, unrelated sexual history of victims will not be used against them in a court proceeding.
The parents of former University of New Hampshire student Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott shared how the case against Lizzi's murderer and rapist Seth Mazzaglia led to the filing of this legislation after Mazzaglia's lawyers tried to introduce evidence about Lizzi's sexual past during an appeal of his murder conviction.
"During the last few steps of (the criminal justice process), we were outraged that our daughter's privacy was going to be jeopardized," said Lizzi's father, Bob Marriott.
From there Bob and his wife Melissa fought to protect Lizzi's privacy, and when they won that, they continued to carry on the fight to protect other victims through SB 9.
"It is on behalf of our daughter and all the sexual assault victims that my wife and I spoke out and advocated for the pass of the Senate Bill 9," Bob said.
SB 166 makes it easier for victims who are impregnated due to rape to terminate the rights of the rapist as a parent.
Sununu said a young woman who carried the burden of having to prove that her abuser shouldn't have any access to her or her child inspired the bill.
"With the passage of SB 166, this burden will no longer lie with the mother to prove anything," Sununu added.
HB 94 will prohibit certain legal defenses for defendants being charged with purchasing sex from a minor. Neither lack of knowledge of the victim's age nor "consent" of a minor can be used by defendants in human trafficking cases.
HB 220 changes the term "Child Pornography" to "Child Sexual Abuse Images" to better represent the nature of the crime.
"These criminals are sexually abusing children and re-victimizing them each and every time another person views their crime," Sununu said.