Local News

Under NC law, no doesn't always mean no

Posted May 2, 2017 5:14 p.m. EDT
Updated May 2, 2017 6:06 p.m. EDT

— A Wake County woman is fighting to change a state law that says women cannot legally revoke consent during sex, even if the encounter turns violent.

Amy Guy said her estranged husband showed up drunk at her apartment in December and demanded sex.

"Since he was getting angry, I figured it would be better to go ahead and agree to the sex because I figured that was the safer thing for me to do," Guy said Tuesday.

But she said he got violent with her, and he wouldn't end their sexual encounter even though she begged him to stop.

Jonathan Wayne Guy, 48, was initially charged with second-degree rape in the case, but because the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in a 1979 case that women cannot revoke consent after sex begins, the charges were lowered to misdemeanor assault on a female.

He pleaded guilty to the charges in March and is now serving a 10-month jail sentence.

"I was devastated. I didn't understand how that could be because I knew I had been raped," Amy Guy said. "I don't understand how the law can say that I wasn't."

WRAL News usually doesn't identify victims of sexual assault, but Amy Guy came forward to make a public stand on what many North Carolina prosecutors consider an archaic law that needs to be taken off the books.

"We firmly believe that people should have the right to revoke their consent," Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said. "Anytime someone no longer wishes to be involved in a sexual act ... they have the right to withdraw that consent and the right to revoke that consent."

"Everyone understands the law to say no means no, but the reality is no doesn't mean no if you don't say it initially," said Kristopher Hilscher, Amy Guy's attorney. "If you don't say no right at the outset, you can't say no later. We fully believe Amy was raped, but the law didn't help her."

Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg, who sponsored legislation to change state law, but Senate Bill 553, which was filed a week after Jonathan Guy's guilty plea, never got a hearing in the Senate and is likely dead for the rest of the two-year legislative session.

Jackson said he plans to file similar bills in future sessions until the law is changed.

"We're the only state in the country where no doesn't mean no," he said.

"I hope other women get the protection they need. I hope we can change the law. It's not right," Amy Guy said.