NC Lawmaker Tries for 4th Time to Close Sex Consent Law Loophole

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Senator Jeff Jackson is hoping the fourth time’s the charm when it comes to providing people in North Carolina with what seems perfectly reasonable: the right to revoke consent after sex has begun. He says, “There is no other state in which you do not have the right to revoke consent.”

North Carolina stands alone, as the only place in America where this legal loophole remains on the books. It’s not some abstract theoretical, either. Real life, right now rape charges get dropped, reduced, or never even considered, because of a state supreme court ruling from 1979. It’s called State v. Way.

Forensic nurse Angie Alexander remembers the first time she found out about it, when a woman came to the ER after being sexually assaulted. She says, “And law enforcement came in and did their interview, and informed her that there was no law broken. And she was devastated.” She continues, “Just last month, we had another case, very similar.” Alexander says, “It happens frequently.”

And all over the state. In Raleigh, a woman says her ex-husband showed up drunk at her apartment in 2016, demanding sex. As he got angrier, she agreed, but then the encounter turned violent. Amy Guy said, “I began crying and I asked him to please stop.” He was initially charged with second degree rape, but because of the old law, the charges were lowered to assault on a female.

“The criminal justice system is not set up to protect survivors,” says Skye David. She is the staff attorney for the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She supports Jackson’s bill, and she explains revoking consent like this: “I invite you to my beach house for the weekend. You get there on Friday and you’re a jerk. I ask you to leave and you stay. You’re trespassing. The same happens with your body.”

Alexander is the Forensic Program Coordinator at Atrium Health She says she is hopeful that this time, the bill will get a vote. She contacted Jackson to offer her support. “I wanted him to know that I want the best for my patients. I know how important healing is for a sexual assault survivor,” she says.

Jackson has tried four times to give people the right to say no to sex at any time. Now, as the Democrat pointed out in this online piece he published last month, he says he’s grateful for bipartisan momentum and Republican co-sponsors. Jackson says, “It’s not a scary fix. What’s scary is the status quo.”

Jackson says: if and when Senate Bill 563 is allowed to come to a vote, he expects it to pass unanimously. That could be in a matter of days. Jackson urges supporters to call their representative and ask them to vote in favor of it.