Sexual harassment law is one of the most interesting aspects of the legal world. Like many areas of law, the legislation that governs sexual harassment is constantly evolving. However, sexual harassment laws are especially interesting because they reflect society’s changing ideas and standards. In order to fully appreciate the magnitude of these changes, you only need to refer back to some of the earliest sexual harassment laws in history. Hundreds of years ago in England, a woman could only legally claim that she had been sexually assaulted if she had been a virgin prior to the incident. Today, women can hold their employers legally accountable for inappropriate comments, unwelcome touching, and lewd jokes. To say that progress has been made would be a clear understatement. New Hampshire has just enacted a series of new sexual harassment laws, proving that society’s ideas about these crimes are still constantly evolving.
New Hampshire’s New Sexual Harassment Laws
According to U.S. News, New Hampshire is expanding its definition of sexual assault. One of the most important changes involves schools, and it provides significant protections to students between the ages of 13 and 18. Under this new law, any type of sexual contact between school employees and children between these ages will be classified as sexual assault.
Closing a Loophole
At first glance, it might seem unbelievable that New Hampshire actually allowed sexual contact between teachers and students as young as 13. While this might be a slightly misleading statement, a loophole definitely existed. This was made clear after a case involving a teacher named Primo “Howie” Leung was involved in a scandal involving sexual contact with students. The teacher had been an employee of a school in Concord, and he was spotted kissing another student by school officials as early as 2018.
Unbelievably, he was not reported to the police. This was because the acts were taking place outside of school property, and officials failed to report him because of a law that allowed teenagers above the age of 16 to consent to this type of contact – as long as they weren’t being coerced. Eventually, Leung was charged with sexual assault. This new legislation in New Hampshire aims to close that loophole so that teachers in the future may not exploit it.
Other Laws Passed
New Hampshire has passed other laws as part of this new initiative. These additional laws provide increased levels of protection for sexual assault victims, including those who have suffered assault or harassment at their workplace. That being said, the focus is clearly on educational institutions with these new laws. Another aspect of this law forces colleges and universities to adopt strict sexual misconduct policies.
Colleges must also clearly educate their students about dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, sexual harassment, and similar crimes. Each college is required to develop a task force and survey its students on their experiences with sexual misconduct. Four other states attempted to pass similar legislation, but it failed to pass. New Hampshire is among seven states that will adopt these laws in 2021.