House overwhelmingly passes bill to strengthen states rape shield law
A bill designed to enhance the privacy protections for victims of sexual assault will head to the governor’s desk with overwhelming support from the House.
In a vote of 328-30, legislators passed Senate Bill 9, which was introduced on the heels of a highly publicized appeal made by convicted murderer and rapist Seth Mazzaglia to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Mazzaglia was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2014 for strangling and murdering Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott, a 19-year-old University of New Hampshire student. He challenged on appeal whether a victim’s thoughts about certain sexual practices are protected under the state’s existing rape shield law. The higher court ultimately denied his request for a new trial.
SB 9 clarifies the definition of sexual activity under the rape shield law to include not just prior acts, but thoughts and expressions, too. It also specifies that a victim’s sexual history should remain under seal on appeal unless the Supreme Court overturns the lower court’s ruling.