Governor signs bills to strengthen rights of sexual assault victims

Bills strengthen shield law, provide protection for victims

CONCORD, N.H. —

Victims of sexual violence now have new protections, thanks to several bills signed by Gov. Chris Sununu.

The family of murdered New Hampshire college student Lizzi Marriotthas fought hard for them.

“Very overwhelming to have that many people here supporting the bills that were signed today,” said Lizzi’s father, Bob Marriott.

Lizzi was sexually assaulted and killed in 2012.

During her murderer's appeal, the state Supreme Court originally ruled Lizzi's sexual history would be made public, but later reversed that decision.

The Marriotts and others then advocated for other victims, leading to the creation of Senate Bill 9.

It will strengthen the rape shield law to keep the sexual history of victims private in any court.

“It's very much a problem that we had to deal with and I’m glad that no one else will have to,” said Marriott.

On Wednesday, Sununu signed three other bills to protect victims.

Senate Bill 166 will make it easier for mothers who were raped to end the parental rights of the rapist.

House Bill 94 amends a statute so those accused of prostitution or human trafficking can't say they didn't know the victim's age or whether the victim consented to sex.

Under state law, House Bill 220 will change the term "child pornography" to "child sexual abuse images" to reflect the seriousness of the crime.

“These bills were all passed with strong bipartisan support," Sununu said. "And today's ceremony highlights that these issues are truly everyone's issues."

Senate Bill 9 and House Bill 220 will take effect in 60 days.

Senate Bill 166 and House Bill 94 will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Andrew Gorrill