In New Hampshire, those who commit rape or sexual abuse without witnesses present could be all but guaranteed to get away with it under a new proposal from state Rep. William Marsh (R-District 8). The measure, House Bill 106, stipulates "that a victim's testimony in a sexual assault case shall require corroboration" when the defendant has no prior sexual-assault convictions. It does not elaborate about what kind of corroboration would be sufficient.
Marsh told the Concord Monitor he drafted the bill, introduced last week, after hearing about the conviction of Concord psychologist Foad Afshar, who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a young client. Marsh's daughter thinks Afshar is innocent, and Marsh said he "trust(s) my daughter's judgments of people."
He just wouldn't want jurors to trust his apparently impeccably intuitive daughter if she were assaulted and no one else could confirm it…
As Amanda Grady Sexton, Concord city councilor-at-large, points out, Marsh's bill "would be saying a victim's sworn testimony isn't good enough, even if it's been viewed as credible by 12 sworn jurors." In other words, it would be creating a higher standard of proof for rape and sexual assault than for any other crimes.
Republican Rep. Jess Edwards, the legislation's co-sponsor, said he is backing the bill because he fears a "chilling effect" among adults who volunteer with children. "I'm concerned those adults won't want to get involved after learning how easy it is to be put in jail," Edwards told the Monitor.
Here's hoping other New Hampshire legislators quickly nip this nonsense. Preventing a theoretical decrease in children's-charity volunteers isn't worth making it easier for people to get away with rape and child abuse.