GOP Lawmaker Convicted of Domestic Violence Named Vice Chair of NH House Committee That Oversees DV Laws

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 21, 2016

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Zandra Rice Hawkins, (603) 225-2471

GOP Lawmaker Convicted of Domestic Violence Named Vice Chair of NH House Committee That Oversees DV Laws

Rep. Frank Sapereto (R-Derry) was convicted of simple assault in 2013 and has twice sponsored legislation to weaken New Hampshire’s simple assault laws

Concord, NH – Convicted GOP lawmaker Frank Sapereto (R-Derry) was named the Vice Chair of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee yesterday afternoon. The committee hears all domestic violence and sexual assault legislation; Rep. Sapereto was convicted of simple assault in 2013 and has twice attempted to weaken New Hampshire’s simple assault laws, in 2013 and 2014.

“An individual convicted of domestic violence should not hold a leadership position on the very committee that will determine domestic violence laws in our state,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “In addition to his own conviction, Rep. Sapareto has twice sponsored legislation to weaken New Hampshire’s simple assault law, even though domestic violence advocates and law enforcement have repeatedly warned that doing so would empower bullies and abusers. This appointment also raises serious questions about how comfortable domestic violence survivors will be participating in committee hearings under his leadership.”

In 2013, now-former State Rep. Mark Warden (R-Goffstown) spoke in support of Sapareto’s bill to weaken simple assault laws, stating that “a lot of people like being in abusive relationships” and “are always free to leave.” In a media interview that same year, Sapareto stated that the state court system had handled 8,417 misdemeanor assault cases the previous year and that his bill made sense because no one was seriously hurt in at least half of those cases. WCAX reported that House Speaker Shawn Jasper “says he offered Sapareto the job to win his backing for the speakership, which Sapareto also sought.”

According to the most recent report from the Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse Domestic Violence, domestic violence was a causal factor in 83% of the murder/suicides in New Hampshire during the 2014-2015 biennium.

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Additional Sources:

Russman Law, NH Considers a Bill to Reduce Simple Assault from a Misdemeanor to a Violation, October 29, 2013

Eagle Tribune, Derry lawmaker fights assault conviction, April 12, 2013

HuffPo, Mark Warden, New Hampshire State Legislator, Says People May Like ‘Being In Abusive Relationships’, February 27, 2013

WCAX, Rep convicted of misdemeanor given top criminal justice post, December 20, 2016

Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee’s 11th Report, September 2016

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a research and communications hub to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.