Under North Carolina law, no doesn’t always mean no

North Carolina's rape statute doesn't cover women who try to stop sex after consenting

By Alessandra Maldonado

Published June 22, 2017 3:48PM (EDT)

              (AP/Markus Schreiber)
(AP/Markus Schreiber)

In North Carolina, no still means no, but legally, yes means yes even if it becomes a no. And that's something legislators are trying to change.

According to a 1979 North Carolina Supreme Court case, State v. Way, "women cannot revoke consent after sexual intercourse begins," according to The Fayetteville Observer. And nearly four decades later, that ruling is coming back in the spotlight.

Aaliyah Palmer, 19, says she was pulled into a bathroom at a party for sex by a man she had met on Tinder. Palmer consented, but told the newspaper she changed her mind when "the sex turned violent" and told him to stop repeatedly, and he didn't.

To make matters worse, Palmer's non consensual encounter was surreptitiously recorded, according to court affidavits, and the video was shared with a number of people. Four Fort Bragg Army soldiers involved have been charged with having possession of the illegally made videos. No rape or sexual assault charges were filed.

Palmer's case is the second recent case highlighting the limits of North Carolina's law. Another woman said her estranged husband "showed up drunk at her apartment and demanded sex." She consented at first, then tried to stop him. But her ex wasn't charged with rape — only with a misdemeanor assault charge.

“Amy was the victim of a law in addition to being a victim of rape,” lawyer Kristopher Hilscher told the newspaper. “It’s had a chilling effect on prosecutions.”

North Carolina State Senator Jeff Jackson is trying to change that. He's the sponsor of a bill that would make it illegal to fail to stop intercourse after consent is revoked, but the future of the bill is in doubt. As the Observer reports, "As the end of the current General Assembly session draws near, the bill is stopped in the Senate’s Rules Committee. [Jackson] said it will probably be dead for the rest of the two-year legislative session."

Alessandra Maldonado

Alessandra Maldonado is an editorial intern at Salon. You can find her on Twitter at @alessamberr

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Consent Consent Laws North Carolina Supreme Court Rape