Local News

Woman sues Bragg soldiers, Tinder, Snapchat over alleged sex assault, revenge porn

Posted January 9, 2020 1:47 p.m. EST
Updated January 12, 2020 6:29 p.m. EST

— A former North Carolina State University student alleges that lax policies of social media apps Tinder and Snapchat make it easier for men to troll for women to sexually assault and to engage in "revenge porn."

Aaliyah Palmer filed a lawsuit Jan. 7 against Match Group Inc. and Snap Inc., which own the two apps, and five Fort Bragg soldiers in connection with a sex assault she alleges occurred in a Fayetteville apartment three years ago.

WRAL News usually doesn't identify victims of sexual assault, but Palmer came forward in 2017 to make a public stand on her case.

Palmer said she met a man on Tinder who invited her to a house party at an apartment complex in Fayetteville.

"I was 18 at the time," she said during an interview with WRAL News. "I had just moved to Raleigh for school. I was excited.”

While at the party, Palmer and the man went into a bathroom to have sex, but she said she noticed someone was filming her on a camera beneath the door during the encounter.

She said she tried to stop the encounter shortly after it began, but the man refused to comply.

"I didn’t find out that it was shared on Snapchat until the police did their investigation," Palmer said. "All I knew was that pictures and videos were taken because I could see a flash being used."

Under state law at that time, a person who consents to sex couldn't legally change his or her mind, so the man was never charged with a crime.

Four Fort Bragg soldiers were charged with possessing a photographic image from peeping, but those charges were later dismissed.

Palmer is suing her alleged attacker and the four other soldiers for assault, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit goes after Snap and Match for negligence, deceptive trade practices and product defects, alleging that people were able to share the images and videos of her attack despite Snap's claims that all messages on its platform quickly disappear and that Match doesn't screen Tinder users to prevent sexual predators from using the service and provides no resources for sexual assault victims who use it.

"It should be on Snapchat to at least save these things so that at least if something were to happen out of the norm or against the law at least we have evidence of it," Palmer said. "For me, it’s about making them have some sort of accountability and responsibility and for them to realize how much damaged they’ve actually done to me."

The General Assembly last fall passed legislation that closes the sexual assault loophole on revoking consent.

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