In North Carolina there are still laws that allow sex offenders, rapists, and predators to avoid any jail time in instances of sexual assault and harassment. Prior to 2019, it was legal to spike someone’s drink and not be penalized for sexual harassment/assault. Leah McGuirk, a North Carolina resident, was in a local bar in Charlotte, North Carolina in May 2018. Minutes later her vision became impaired and lost control of her body and begin to have a seizure. McGuirk mentioned she was not intoxicated during this time, and recalled fishing in her purse, which is the assumed time that her drink was spiked.
McGuirk created a post on social media sharing her story while receiving feedback from other victims within the area who had similar instances and concerns with this same bar. The bar manager released a statement, “We have been working closely with Charlotte Police since our inception to ensure the safety of our patrons. We will continue to make safety a priority.” McGuirk contacted the police department and mentioned, “I felt there needed to be a paper trail.” The police informed her that “her case was not considered a crime under state law, because she was not sexually assaulted.”
Approximately a year later on March 19, 2019 there was a House Bill 393, passed making it “illegal to tamper with someone’s drink, regardless of whether or not they were sexually assaulted.” This creates a change to protect sexual assault and victims relating to McGuirk, continuing to close the loop holes in sexual assault laws in North Carolina.
A Democratic state senator, Jay Chadhuri, an influential sponsor for Senate Bill 199 states that this bill became present in March 2019. This bill, Senate Bill 199, protects children from sexual abuse, and requires a report to be made if child abuse is happening. Creating a tighter ban on high risk sex offenders online who interact with children. Within this bill there is subsection that mentions the right to revoke consent. In this section the guidelines are not as direct as it is in Senate Bill 563.
Senate Bill 563 is predominantly co-sponsored by senator Jeff Jackson, a democratic senator representing Mecklenburg County. In SB 563, it’s phrased that continuation of sex despite withdrawal of consent is deemed to have sexual act by force and against the will of the other person. This bill goes into detail about what withdrawal of consent is in any sexual act or vaginal intercourse.
The slow progress in the gap filling sexual assault laws could be from the risqué topic for defining sex, sexual assault, and consent. North Carolina is in the south, an area that strays away from the topic of sex, leading to the delay in modern laws for sexual assault. There are senators and the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault attorney that are working to implement these laws and pass laws such as the SB 563. Giving victims a say and allowing them to speak up about their situation, if there are laws that protect the predator how can there be change. SB 563 is also influential for married couples and marital rape/spousal rape, where few believe that this not a situation that can happen. This law in North Carolina would protect those spouses that are not consenting to sexual acts but feel obligated to have sex and/or guilty for not consenting to sex.
Ortiz, Erik. NBCNews. ‘It’s disgusting:’ Loopholes remain in North Carolina’s sexual assault laws. Advocates ask why. 2019,11 May.
Padilla, Mariel. The New York Times. North Caroline Lawmakers Pass Bill to Close Sexual Assault loopholes. 2019, 1 Nov.