NC lawmakers pass amendment to better protect victims of date rape

Woman says she was drugged at Epicentre

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - An amendment that would better protect victims that have been drugged without their knowledge has been passed by North Carolina lawmakers and is headed to the governor's desk.

The amendment was proposed by Representative Chaz Beasley, of Mecklenburg County, who says he was inspired by the story of Leah McGuirk.

McGuirk claims she was drugged at Rooftop 210, a bar in Charlotte's popular entertainment hub, Epicentre.

"So, there is no doubt that I was drugged in my case," said Leah McGuirk, who claims she was drugged at the club earlier this year. "Just violated. The whole experience is violating."

Beasley's amendment seeks to make the law clear that drugging or slipping someone poison is a way to render someone 'mentally incapable.'

"It would make it clear that if a person is drugged, so if they are given a controlled substance or a poisonous substance without their knowledge or consent, that also counts as mental incapacitation," said Representative Chaz Beasley of North Carolina District 92. "It takes the ambiguity out of the law and modernizes our statutes. It makes it reflective of current realities."

DOCUMENT: Read Rep. Beasley's full amendment here

Beasley says with that the mental incapacitated classification, the suspect can be charged under a number of sex crime statutes in the state.  Currently the law states that someone can only be mentally incapacitated by a physical act.

"The former statute is a little bit vague. It was interpreted more so as physical acts, like hitting someone in the head with the baseball bat," said attorney Adam Seifer with the SeiferFlatow Law Firm.

Seifer says that the law involves victims that are then assaulted whether sexual or not.

"I am all for clarifying things. I think it spells it out. I think it puts people on notice that this type of behavior will not be tolerated," said Seifer.

Representative Beasley says he will continue to focus on legislation surrounding this issue.

The amendment passed in the House Wednesday and was sent to the Senate. It passed in the Senate late Thursday afternoon.

If signed by Governor Roy Cooper it will become law in July.

"It shows there is a bipartisan appetite to do more to protect victims of date rape and drugging," said Beasley.

"So, that's why what Representative Beasley has done has been such a momentous thing for myself and then for anyone who's been physically assaulted. This is a giant step in the right direction," said McGuirk.

The move by legislators comes as another woman reported that she was drugged while out with her friends in the Epicentre. This time at the Suite nightclub.

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