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Maryland Senate approves bill to allow evidence of past offenses in sexual assault trials

With little discussion, the Maryland Senate on Friday unanimously approved legislation that would allow prosecutors to introduce evidence of past offenses when trying defendants accused of sexual assault.

Similar legislation has already cleared a key hurdle in the House of Delegates.

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The bill has broad support, including that of Gov. Larry Hogan.

The legislation has taken on new urgency in the wake of revelations about Larry Nassar, the doctor accused of sexually abusing U.S. gymnasts, and Bill Cosby, the comedian accused of drugging and raping women.

“This is going to give women a chance to say, ‘It happened to me, also,’ and at least under some circumstances be listened to in court,” said Sen. Jim Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat.

The House could vote as early as Saturday on its version of the bill.

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