Sununu Signs Laws Limiting Defense Arguments Around Sex Crimes

Jun 7, 2017

Governor Sununu signs SB 9, beside Lizzi Marriott's mother, Melissa Marriott.
Credit Emily Corwin / NHPR

Two laws signed by Governor Sununu on Wednesday will limit certain legal arguments in sex crime cases.

Beginning January 1 of next year, a defendant can no longer argue in court that he or she did not know the age of a prostitution or human trafficking victim.

Additionally, Sununu signed a high profile bill strengthening the state’s so-called “rape shield” law. He explained the change would “ensure that the private and unrelated sexual history of sexual assault victims will not be used against them in any court proceeding.”

New Hampshire’s previous “rape shield law” kept sexual histories under seal in trial courts, but did not clarify about appellate courts. That became a problem during defendant and convicted murderer Seth Mazzaglia’s appeal, last year.

Mazzaglia’s victim’s parents, Bob and Melissa Marriott, attended the law’s signing.

Sununu signed two additional laws supported by victims’ advocacy groups. One makes it easier to terminate parental rights when a child’s conception was the result of sexual assault. The other changes the title of New Hampshire’s child pornography statute.