New state laws close loopholes in sexual assault cases

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — It’s a new year with new laws for North Carolina. Several new laws regarding sexual assault are now in effect.

Two new laws change the guidelines for consent to sex. North Carolina is one of the last states in the country to make these changes.

“I think we look to our laws and we look to legislation to say what’s right and what’s wrong,” Chelsea Croom, who works with Coastal Horizons Rape Crisis Center, said.

The laws are closing some longstanding loopholes in sexual assault cases.

“I really believe it brings us into the 21st century, where we’ve needed to be for awhile, which is, we don’t blame victims,” District Attorney Ben David said.

Under one of the new laws, a person can now revoke consent to sex once it’s already begun. North Carolina is the last state to make this change.

“I think victims second-guess themselves anyway, and there’s a lot of blame that comes along with being a victim of sexual assault,” Croom said.

Croom says this is going to help take that blame off of victims.

The second law says a person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not have the capacity to give consent.

“We can specifically point to the law and say, ‘This is what our legislature has said,’ and not just our interpretation of it,” David said. “I think it has more force and strength.”

David says his office has always had these beliefs, but having them in writing will help them prosecute future cases.

“What the law now says is that certain things are just not tolerated and have very serious consequences, and I think that’s an important moment,” David said.

For the victims of sexual assault, Croom says these new laws will help them recover.

“It’s going to validate them,” Croom. “It’s going to validate their feelings. And again, perpetrators now know, this is illegal. You can’t do that.”

Another new law now gives victims of child sexual abuse until the age of 28 to file a civil suit against their attacker. These laws also make it illegal to drug someone’s drink.

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