RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – After getting drugged during a night out with friends, Leah McGuirk says state leaders need to change the law to better protect people.
“My vision went completely black, which was really, really scary,” said McGuirk. “My friends told me that my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I was shaking while I was on the ground, like a seizure.”
McGuirk said she started experiencing that after one drink at a bar in Charlotte. Fortunately, she had people with her to get her to safety.
When she tried to report the incident to police, she found out there is no state law that clearly outlines a crime with which to charge someone.
“It’s still unbelievable to me that I wasn’t considered a victim, that I was chemically assaulted. I could have died that night,” she said.
North Carolina has laws on the books dealing with what happens when a person is sexually assaulted. That didn’t happen in McGuirk’s case.
She says it’s a loophole in state law that needs to be addressed.
“The only law that they had applied to children’s tampered Halloween candy, and I had a beverage,” she said.
On Monday, the state House of Representatives voted unanimously to change the law to make clear that drugging another person’s drink is a crime. Under House Bill 393, it would be a different class of felony based on the effects the drug has on the victim and whether there’s any lasting effect.
“It’s something that we now have the political will to fix,” says state Rep. Chaz Beasley (D-Mecklenburg), who sponsored the bill.
It also addresses other aspects of the state’s sexual assault laws, including who is legally considered a juvenile’s caretaker.
Additionally, Beasley says the bill addresses another loophole in state law to “make it very clear that if you sexually assault someone, the fact that they were already mentally incapacitated is not a defense.”
Following Monday’s vote, the bill heads to the Senate.
“Future victims in the state of North Carolina, they won’t have to go through the nightmare I went through of being invalidated,” said McGuirk.