Lizzi Marriott's family fights to keep documents sealed after NH Supreme Court ruling
CONCORD — The Marriott family will never be whole again after their daughter Lizzi was raped and murdered in 2012.
Details of the 19-year-old’s sexual past were sealed by the trial court due to the state's rape shield law protecting victims.
Seth Mazzaglia was convicted and sentenced to life without parole for raping and murdering Lizzi. But now, as part of his appeal, those sealed documents are at risk of being made public.
“I am still outraged that we have to go through this and you should be too,” said Melissa Marriott, Lizzi’s mother, during a press conference Tuesday.
“The highest court has decided to allow the defendant’s calculated effort to discredit my daughter's memory,” said Bob Marriott, Lizzi’s father.
Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court issued a rule change, and on Friday, it ordered sealed documents in the Marriott case to be opened. The family says that information is private between Lizzi and those who were closest to her.
“They would have remained private had she not been murdered and raped,” Bob Marriott said.
At the request of the Attorney General's office, the Supreme Court agreed to stay its ruling and grant a full briefing before moving forward. Victim advocates from the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence say the rule change undermines the rape shield law.
“Whether or not an individual has engaged in sexual activity in the last week, the last month, the last year, or the last decade, has absolutely nothing to do with whether that person was raped today,” said Lyn Schollett, Executive Director of the NHCADSV.
The AG’s office will argue its case, and the documents will remain sealed at least for now.
“My child has been murdered," Bob Marriott said. "Her ability to speak and provide context has been silenced by this monster who had no regard for human life."
Elected officials are speaking out against the ruling. Gov. Maggie Hassan released a statement saying in part:
"My heart goes out to the Marriott family, who has already endured a loss beyond comprehension. I am pleased the Supreme Court has agreed to stay its ruling and allow for a full briefing on reconsideration. I hope they will ultimately reconsider and overturn their decision. If not, I am fully prepared to work in partnership with the legislature to ensure that we uphold the intent and spirit of New Hampshire’s rape shield law," Gov. Hassan said.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is also reacting to the news.
“I don’t believe it serves our justice system or the public to disclose the personal sexual history of a sexual assault victim. Sexual assault remains one of the most under-reported crimes in our justice system and I am deeply concerned that undermining our rape shield law’s basic privacy protections will cause irreparable damage to law enforcement efforts to encourage survivors to report their assault and cooperate with prosecution. The federal government and state legislatures across the country are working on bipartisan legislation to better protect the rights of sexual assault survivors – this decision seems to be moving New Hampshire in exactly the wrong direction. I am encouraged that the court will hear additional arguments on this issue, and I look forward to their review," Sen. Shaheen said.