Anyone Can Be A Victim - Debbie's Story
They say that anyone can become a victim of a crime at any time. I didn’t understand just how true was until I was drugged and sexually assaulted in June of 2008.
Following the assault, I immediately went to a hospital to have a medical forensic exam done and I reported the crime to law enforcement. By the end of the summer my perpetrator was arrested and charged with aggravated felonious sexual assault. Soon after, more women came forward with similar encounters with the same man.
After months of waiting, I found out that this perpetrator would accept a plea deal that minimized his crimes to misdemeanor level simple assault.
I never had the chance to confer with a prosecutor about the plea deal that was offered, weigh on the case, or speak to the court about the impact that this man’s actions had on me or the risk he posed to the public’s safety.
Marsy’s Law grants victims the constitutional right to confer with the prosecutor, the right to be notified of and to be present at proceedings, and the right to be heard. Each of these rights were trampled in my case and until they are elevated to a constitutional level, victims in our state will continue to have this experience.
There was no recourse or means for me to address these direct violations on my statutory rights. That is why I am here today advocating for CACR 22 – victims and survivors of crime deserve constitutional protections that are enforceable and meaningful.
Elevating my statutory rights to the same constitutional level as the man that violated me is the only way to have ensured that I had a voice in the process and had the chance to address the court prior to conclusion of the case.
I understand that my statement may not have changed the outcome of the case, but I should have been guaranteed the right to at least be heard.
I had my power stripped away when I was drugged and raped. The very system that was supposed to hold him accountable stripped my power away again and silenced me. Victims of crime in New Hampshire deserve better.
Many victims already don’t come forward because they are either scared or ashamed – allowing the scales of justice to be so drastically tilted in favor of a defendant discourages victims even more from reporting.
Victims of all crime deserve to be heard, respected, feel safe, and should have equal rights as their perpetrator – nothing more, but certainly nothing less. I'm disappointed that a small group of legislators recently chose to ignore dozens of survivors like me who testified before them that constitutional protections are necessary. I hope the full House of Representatives reverses this decision and this anti-victim thinking when it considers CACR 22 on April 26th.