Removing the Statute of Limitations on Sexual Crimes

Removing the Statute of Limitations on Sexual Crimes

By State Senator Martha Fuller Clark
Over my lifetime, I have seen American society come to realize just how horrific crimes like rape and sexual assault are. The impact on victims can be measured, not in traumatized days and months, but in years and decades. The psychological impacts are multiplied by difficulties encountered keeping jobs and maintaining relationships. Often memories of such horrific assaults only surface years later, after countless hours of therapy and support.
We have also learned that rapes and sexual assaults are less likely to be perpetrated by strangers preying on strangers. It is much more likely, we now know, to be perpetrated by a family member in familiar surroundings or by a colleague in the workplace.
And while rape remains egregiously underreported, we now know that efforts in recent decades to encourage reporting have brought more cases to the attention of the courts without the recriminations that were so often present in the past. As we have begun to take the impacts of sexual assault on victims and their families much more seriously, we are also seeing that the way police, prosecutors, court personnel, and medical professionals interact with victims of rape and sexual assault has been changing as well.
One thing that has not changed, however, is one of the most important threshold questions asked when someone comes forward: When did the attack take place? In New Hampshire, if a victim answers with any date before (as of this writing) January 21st, 2011, the reporting officer might just as well stop writing, crumple up the form they were filling out and aim for the recycling bin. There is nothing that that officer or any prosecutor or judge in the state can do in such a situation. Because the alleged crime was committed over six years ago, no case can ever be brought against the accused perpetrator, thanks to our current statute of limitations. This law must be changed. That is why this year I have filed legislation (SB 98) to end New Hampshire's harmful and arbitrary six year statute of limitations for sexual assault claims.
Statutes of limitations serve a purpose in property crimes. No one thinks that police should spend years tracking down a stolen car or investigating an act of vandalism. People file an insurance claim, purchase a new vehicle, and move on with their lives. Statutes of limitations also stop prosecutors from holding charges over a suspect’s head for years without proof. There are hundreds of classes of criminal cases that don’t merit remaining prosecutable for an indefinite period. Sexual assault and rape is not one of them.
Nationwide attention to the arbitrary nature of short statutes of limitations has recently received much greater public attention. Most notably, in the last year, as a result of claims leveled against Bill Cosby for rape and sexual assault going back forty years. A number of Cosby’s alleged victims have come forward, in the wake of others speaking out, only to find themselves without legal recourse against the comedian due to such statutes of limitations. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only two in 100 rapists will be convicted of a felony and spend any time in prison. The other 98 percent will never be punished for their crime. (Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, Dept. of Justice publications, 2009)
California, undoubtedly in response to the Cosby case, has just recently joined a number of other states in seeking to remedy this egregious situation by passing legislation ending such statutes of limitations without opposition. It is time for New Hampshire to reform its laws as well.
Once armed with the ability to bring such cases long after the six-year limit, I am confident that prosecutors in our state will be able to put more rapists behind bars and stop sexual offenders, who are routinely discovered to be serial offenders, before they can reoffend. This means fewer rapes, fewer women – and men – being victimized, and fewer New Hampshire lives shattered by sexual violence.

For those wishing to support this effort, SB 98 and SB164 (companion legislation covering sexual crimes against minors) will have a hearing before the Judiciary Committee next Tuesday, January 31 at 9:00am in Senate Hearing Room 103 in the State House. The Judiciary Committee can also be reached at 271-3092.

Poof Tardiff: 1949 II

Hello fellow Berlinites. By February of 1949, the new Notre Dame Arena was making headlines in the local newspaper. One of the top stories during the beginning of this month talked about why the famous Berlin recreational facility was originally built. I would like to share this story with my readers.

There was probably no more popular businesslike and worthy a corporation in the city of Berlin than that which managed the Notre Dame Arena back then, nor was there such a group whose cause for being was less purposeful or less known.

All this, on first glance seemed confusing, but it was however, the best way of getting at the reasons behind the construction and operation of this facility that we still (2017) call the Notre Dame Arena.

Organized in February of 1948 as a voluntary corporation, eleven men worked hard to ensure the success of this venture. Considering the arena's popularity with local citizens, as well as the size of the crowds attending arena events, the members of this corporation had been highly success full, one year later.

Reverend O.F. Bousquet was of course, the original spark and the guiding light of this enterprise. It was at first a distant dream, then a vague plan and finally a project requiring constant effort, ingenuity, friends and funds. This all came in time, but if Father Bousquet had not been there when needed, the project might have failed or taken a much less and different direction.

The members of this corporation met on Monday evening January 31, 1949 and made plans to continue their quiet, consistent job. Here were their names: Father Bousquet, Joseph Dumont, Anita Comtois, Edward Filteau, Joseph G. Blais, J.E. Larochelle, Theodore Bellefeuille, Louis Paradis, Alphonse Therriault, Leo R. Leblanc and Jean Louis Blais. The members of the board of directors were all re-elected and they were: Doctor Larochelle, president, Mr. Paradis, vice-president, Mr. Bellefeuille, treasurer and Judge Blais, secretary.

Father Bousquet, who practically drained his financial resources, intended the arena as a a contribution to the youth of Berlin, because it gave them ample opportunity to engage in good healthy sport and it fulfilled this priest's desire to reduce juvenile delinquency. There was also a purpose which had not been realized. Section 8 of the corporation's by-laws provided for scholarships, once the mortgage debt had been brought well under control. Now, here is what article 8 said:

“One of the objects of this corporation being to promote the higher education of the youth of the city of Berlin, by operating scholarship funds to be awarded to deserving graduate students of Notre Dame Roman Catholic High School; it shall be the duty of the Board of Trustees, as soon as financial position of the corporation warrants it, to set aside so much of the net income of the corporation as the Board of Trustees shall deem advisable, in a separate fund to be designated as the “Notre Dame Scholarship Fund”.

“Scholarships from this fund shall be awarded in the sound discretion of the Board of Trustees to deserving graduates of the Notre Dame Roman Catholic High School, who desire to continue their education in institutions of higher learning and whose financial circumstances without assistance would not enable them to realize their ambitions”.

“The number of scholarships to be awarded each year, the amount of the scholarship and the choice of the recipient of each scholarship, shall be determined by the Board of Trustees. The board shall have the authority to establish rules and regulations governing the method of choosing recipients of the scholarship funds, but preference in the award of scholarship shall be given to graduate students of Notre Dame, who intended to continue their studies in Roman Catholic institutions of higher learning”.

“No person related by blood or marriage to any member of the Board of Trustees shall be eligible to receive any scholarship that may be awarded by the Board of Trustees in the exercise of their functions”.

With Father Bousquet steering the effort, with the members of the corporation working in their accustomed manner ( for which they received no pay) and with the people of Berlin supporting the arena to the limit, the scholarship provision will become effective before many more months had gone by. Then, Father Bousquet's “dream” will have entered its final stage of completion. This was the reason that our beloved Notre Dame Arena was originally constructed. I do not know how many students did indeed receive scholarships.

During the first week of the month of March the Brown Company announced a change in its policy with respect to the employment of married women effective March 13, 1949. The company notice stated that it had been a long-standing policy of Brown Company not to employ married woman. The reason for this policy was that employment opportunities for girls in this area were limited. By means of this new policy, the company kept open employment opportunities for young girls here.

In 1941, during the wartime emergency and the shortage of help, Brown Company temporarily altered this policy in order to make women available for employment during the manpower shortage of the war. When this emergency passed in 1946 however, the company's original policy of not employing married women was restored.

Recent rulings of the unemployment compensation agencies made it necessary for the Brown Company to change its policy with respect to the employment of married women. Therefore, effective on and after March 13, 1949 women who got married while in the employ of our local paper mills would no longer be required to resign. That was certainly a plus for woman's rights 68 years ago.

Finally, how many people can remember the building on the corner of Emery and Willard Streets that housed the nuns of St. Kieran's Parish. Well in March of 1949 work was started on this three floor building.

Reasons for constructing the new building were announced shortly after the ground had been broken. In their present home, which stood next to St. Kieran's Church, the nuns were said to be badly crowded. It was believed that when the new St. Patrick School opened on Blanchard Street, additional nuns would be needed as teachers and space would be difficult to provide them in the present building. That building no longer exists today.

I will continue with the year 1949 in my next story.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comments email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the posted weekly mystery pictures.

Joseph G. BlaisJoseph G. Blais

Jean Louis BlaisJean Louis Blais

First Notre Dame ArenaFirst Notre Dame Arena

Father Bousquet 1Father Bousquet

In 2017, celebrate another First in the Nation for NH


By Michael York

New Hampshire is known for being first for many things: we hold the First in the Nation Primary, we ratified the first state constitution, founded the first public library in the United States and more. But you might not know that we also were the first state in America to have a State Library.
On January 25, 1717 in Portsmouth, the Twenty-Seventh General Assembly “voted that ye Law books be distributed among ye severall towns of this Province in proportion according to their last Prov. tax, except two books which shall be for ye use of ye Govr & Councile and house of representatives.” This law – made when New Hampshire was still part of England and almost 60 years before there even was a United States – makes it clear that the members of the provincial government knew that libraries are vital places of information and need to be a cornerstone of how we go about our business.
The “Law books” set aside for elected officials were the beginnings of the New Hampshire State Library, and they began a long history of libraries in New Hampshire communities: Peterborough is the first library in the country supported by public funds; “social libraries,” where members shared books and paid dues, flourished across the state in the early 1800s; philanthropists funded many public libraries – both the buildings and what went into them – a hundred years later. Soon, every city and town in New Hampshire had a library, proof that our citizens valued libraries as integral facets of our communities.
Three hundred years after it was founded, the State Library continues to serve the people of the New Hampshire by providing services that keep the libraries in our communities strong. The State Library’s professional development staff offers workshops for librarians that keep them up to speed on the most cutting-edge aspects of library science, thereby allowing them to deliver the very best library services to their patrons. We serve as a central point of delivery for both public and school libraries, helping them to share resources and strengthen their purchasing power. We also are a working library with patrons who come from across the state and the country to use our collection of more than 600,000 items, including books about New Hampshire, books by New Hampshire authors and illustrators, newspaper archives, genealogy documents, government documents and library science materials.
Throughout 2017, we’ll be celebrating the State Library’s 300th anniversary as well as New Hampshire’s strong library tradition. Look for articles in newspapers, postings to our Facebook and Twitter accounts (look for #NHSL300), a special section on our website and more.
We encourage you to play your part, too, just as those who have come before you have. You’re welcome to visit us here at 20 Park St. in Concord, right across from the State House, and be sure to take advantage of the many services that your public library has to offer. You’ll be in good company when you do.

Michael York is the Acting Commissioner, NH Department of Cultural Resources

Why 2017 May Be the Best Year Ever

Why 2017 May Be the Best Year Ever

By Nicholas Kristof
NY Times columnist

There’s a broad consensus that the world is falling apart, with every headline reminding us that life is getting worse.
Except that it isn’t. In fact, by some important metrics, 2016 was the best year in the history of humanity. And 2017 will probably be better still.
How can this be? I’m as appalled as anyone by the election of Donald Trump, the bloodshed in Syria, and so on. But while I fear what Trump will do to America and the world, and I applaud those standing up to him, the Trump administration isn’t the most important thing going on. Here, take my quiz:
On any given day, the number of people worldwide living in extreme poverty:
A.) Rises by 5,000, because of climate change, food shortages and endemic corruption.
B.) Stays about the same.
C.) Drops by 250,000.
Polls show that about 9 out of 10 Americans believe that global poverty has worsened or stayed the same. But in fact, the correct answer is C. Every day, an average of about a quarter-million people worldwide graduate from extreme poverty, according to World Bank figures.
Or if you need more of a blast of good news, consider this: Just since 1990, more than 100 million children’s lives have been saved through vaccinations, breast-feeding promotion, diarrhea treatment and more. If just about the worst thing that can happen is for a parent to lose a child, that’s only half as likely today as in 1990.
When I began writing about global poverty in the early 1980s, more than 40 percent of all humans were living in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 10 percent are. By 2030 it looks as if just 3 or 4 percent will be. (Extreme poverty is defined as less than $1.90 per person per day, adjusted for inflation.)
For nearly all of human history, extreme poverty has been the default condition of our species, and now, on our watch, we are pretty much wiping it out. That’s a stunning transformation that I believe is the most important thing happening in the world today — whatever the news from Washington.
There will, of course, be continued poverty of a less extreme kind, smaller numbers of children will continue to die unnecessarily, and inequality remains immense. Oxfam calculated this month that just eight rich men own as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity.
Yet global income inequality is actually declining. While income inequality has increased within the U.S., it has declined on a global level because China and India have lifted hundreds of millions from poverty.
All this may seem distant or irrelevant at a time when many Americans are traumatized by Trump’s inauguration. But let me o reassure you, along with myself.
On a recent trip to Madagascar to report on climate change, I was struck that several mothers I interviewed had never heard of Trump, or of Barack Obama, or even of the United States. Their obsession was more desperate: keeping their children alive. And the astonishing thing was that those children, despite severe malnutrition, were all alive, because of improvements in aid and health care — reflecting trends that are grander than any one man.
Some of the most remarkable progress has been over diseases that — thank God! — Americans very rarely encounter. Elephantiasis is a horrible, disfiguring, humiliating disease usually caused by a parasite, leading a person’s legs to expand hugely until they resemble an elephant’s. In men, the disease can make the scrotum swell to grotesque proportions, so that when they walk they must carry their scrotum on a homemade wheelbarrow.
Yet some 40 countries are now on track to eliminate elephantiasis. When you’ve seen the anguish caused by elephantiasis — or leprosy, or Guinea worm, or polio, or river blindness, or blinding trachoma — it’s impossible not to feel giddy at the gains registered against all of them.
There’s similar progress in empowering women and in reducing illiteracy. Until the 1960s, a majority of humans had always been illiterate; now, 85 percent of adults are literate. And almost nothing makes more difference in a society than being able to read and write.
Michael Elliott, who died last year after leading the One Campaign, which battles poverty, used to say that we are living in an “age of miracles.” He was right, yet the progress is still too slow, and a basic question is whether President Trump will continue bipartisan U.S. efforts to fight global poverty. A four-page questionnaire from the Trump team to the State Department seems to suggest doubts about the value of humanitarian aid.
One reason for the Trump team’s skepticism may be the belief that global poverty is hopeless, that nothing makes a difference. So let’s keep perspective. Yes, Trump may cause enormous damage to America and the world in the coming years, and by all means we should challenge him at every turn. But when the headlines make me sick, I soothe myself with the reflection that there are forces in the world that are larger than Trump, and that in the long history of humanity, this still will likely be the very best year yet.
Remember: The most important thing happening is not a Trump tweet. What’s infinitely more important is that today some 18,000 children who in the past would have died of simple diseases will survive, about 300,000 people will gain electricity and a cool 250,000 will graduate from extreme poverty.

State of the City of Berlin - January 2017

By Mayor Paul Grenier

It has been a few months since I last wrote a public report. Though we face some very serious challenges, overall the City of Berlin is doing well. The large road project we undertook last year on Hutchins Street really came out quite well. Because financing for the project was almost all federal money passed through the NH Department of Transportation, we had to conform to strict guidelines set forth by the state, including competitive bidding and acceptance of final design. There is hope we can take the sharp comer out of the Bridge Street intersection in the very near future, as well as looking at street lighting that Councilor Roland Theberge has strongly advocated for.
The Route 16 project is approximately 50 percent complete, but already it is a real treat to drive on. Once complete, sometime in mid to late summer, Berlin's main arteries will all have been completely reconstructed. With the announcement that Berlin received two grants totaling over $900,000 for the Riverwalk project, upper Main Street will be something for all of us to be very proud of. The city's investment in Service Credit Union Heritage Park is starting to pay dividends well beyond what the City Council had hoped for, and let's not forget the awesome work of the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce. They are doing exactly what they said they were going to do and in just this short time, the park looks great. Thank you Paula and all the folks at the chamber. Where would our economy be without you!!!
Our economy here in the Berlin area continues to be uneven. There continues to be really great success stories, (Capone Iron Corp., Gorham Paper and Tissue, Burgess Biopower) that are offset by the continued struggles in the retail segment. Remember, it is vital that we all shop locally. Our shopkeepers are the ones who support our various community activities and they live work and play here and are our neighbors.
There are new efforts abound by environmental groups and others to rein in and in some cases, reverse the progress we've made in ATV recreation. In the Nash Stream area, some people are trying to stop ATV usage. Many are from out of state who don't want to share the great outdoors with the rest of us. The ATV community needs to stand up and wake up to the new realities. We all need to be respectful when using ATVs on trails and on streets and highways, but make no mistake; it's time to organize. Absent of a strong lobbying organization to speak on ATV's behalf, the activity will be severely curtailed.
This year's budget process will prove to be a bear. The NH Retirement System has sharply raised rates this year at the very same time the state is also curtailing aid to local education. The total impact across the city this fiscal year will be approximately $400,000, just to keep even. These are unsustainable. I am working with a consortium of communities across the state to reverse cuts to schools and the efforts are really too early to report. That is the primary reason the City Council could not muster the two-thirds majority needed to inject new money into the Berlin Visiting Nurses Program. Although I did not agree, I respect the will of the city council and we must work together to transition folks to other services who do this for a business. Medicare billing is difficult and with the uncertainty that abounds from Washington, now is not the time to have a divided city council. Collectively, along with the expert advise from City Manager Jim Wheeler, we will work through these difficult issues.
With the NH Public Utilities Commission pushing the Smith Hydro divestiture process this year, we will soon know where we stand. Will we own and operate Smith along with other community assets? There is great interest in the hydro portion of Eversource's portfolio but lukewarm interest in the other generation assets. Berlin is positioning itself to deal with all possibilities. One area of Eversource's efforts that Berlin is 100percent behind is in Northern Pass transmission project. It is estimated that Berlin will see immediate tax relief to the tune of $250,000 to $350,000 annually in the first five years, or roughly equal to what this year's downward cost shift to us from the state is. There will be hundreds of jobs created during construction with as much impact to us locally as was the Burgess Biopower and Federal Prison jobs. Remember Berlin/Gorham's restaurants and inns then? This will be a gift that will keep giving long past completion.
Finally, my family and I have lost two very important people in our lives recently. Tony Urban, who passed away late December, was Berlin's Rock of Gibraltar. His love of student athletes was second only to wife Carolyn and daughter Pam and brother Rudy. Tony was a mentor of mine and was a brutally honest advisor. The other was my dear sister-in-law Diane Horne who passed away last week. Diane was a kind-hearted person who loved life and her family very much. She was a mother away from home to many kids who attended Brown School and made sure those kids got a fair shake. My wife Brenda and Diane were very close, our family has been left with a huge void and she will be sorely missed by husband Mike and sons Ant and Colby. May both rest in peace.