North Carolina was the only state where it wasn't considered a crime to continue to have sex with someone after they revoked their consent. The loophole was a result of a 1979 court decision. In State v. Way, the North Carolina Supreme Court determined if "the actual penetration is accomplished with the woman's consent, the accused is not guilty of rape, although he may be guilty of another crime because of his subsequent actions." As a result, many sexual assault victims felt that they couldn't report their experiences, and if they did, they'd find out the system was rigged against them.
Now, North Carolina is entering the 21st century when it comes to sexual assault. The North Carolina legislature unanimously voted to modernize their consent laws. "This is the most common sense piece of legislation we'll ever pass," state Senator Jeff Jackson told NBC News. "Every year victims would call us, share their stories and ask why this loophole still existed." Sen. Jackson also called the law, "a big win for basic decency." After 40 years, no will finally mean no.
BREAKING: North Carolina House and Senate Unanimously Vote to Close Consent Loophole. We will no longer be the onl… https://t.co/iWxpaGZeSY— Sen. Jeff Jackson (@Sen. Jeff Jackson) 1572549858.0
Sen. Jackson cited hearing stories from sexual assault survivors as his motivation for pushing the issue.
In the process of fighting for this for many years, I spoke to countless women who had been through this experience… https://t.co/PGzLPha4kt— Sen. Jeff Jackson (@Sen. Jeff Jackson) 1572550563.0
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Sen. Jackson had been working to close the loophole since 2015, proposing legislation each year. In March, Senate Bill 199 was introduced to protect children from sexual abuse, but lawmakers worked together to expand the bill, combining the best aspects of four different sexual assault bills. "There were multiple bills moving in the Senate on sexual assault, child abuse, better protecting survivors, and other topics that are a major part of our public discourse," state Representative Chaz Beasley told Forbes.
The legislation received bipartisan support and passed unanimously. "We were able to get such a huge bill done, and do it in a way that really avoided some of the partisan pitfalls that can happen on issues like this," Rep. Beasley told Forbes. This is what happens when we work together.
In 2008, a court ruling created another loophole that made it legal to have sex with someone who was incapacitated if it was caused by their own actions, like drinking or doing drugs. North Carolina's new law changes that. The law also bans attempts to drug someone's food or drink (even if no sexual assault takes place), increases the statute of limitations for child sexual assault victims to sue, bans online conduct by high-risk sex offenders, and expands the duty of those over 18 to report knowledge of sex crimes against minors.
This is great news across many fronts. Consent laws now reflect common sense. Sexual assault victims no longer have to feel like the system is rigged against them, and legislators are no longer stubbornly upholding a rigged system with vague excuses like, "boys will be boys."
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