Every day, our journalism dismantles barriers and shines a light on the critical overlooked and under-reported issues important to all North Carolinians.
Before you go …
If you like what you are reading and believe in independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism like ours—journalism the way it should be—please contribute to keep us going. Reporting like this isn’t free to produce and we cannot do this alone. Thank you!
Justice elusive for NC sexual assault survivors
Analysis of 4 ½ years of North Carolina court data shows that about 1 in 4 sexual assault defendants who were charged and had their cases resolved in that time window were convicted of either sexual assault or a reduced and related charge. Of those cases in that time period, 50 defendants went to trial; 23 were found guilty. But individual counties had different outcomes. More than 30 of the state’s 100 counties had no sexual assault or reduced-charge convictions at all. A few were well above the statewide level.
A collaborative investigative project spanning 6 ½ months and including 11 news organizations analyzed statewide court data and conducted extensive interviews with sexual assault survivors, victim advocates, medical professionals, law enforcement, prosecutors and state officials across the North Carolina.
The result is Seeking Conviction, an investigative series examining sexual assault convictions in North Carolina, the challenges to successful prosecution, the differences across jurisdictions and the issues state court rulings create when it comes to consent.
Follow Our Investigation
Fewer than one in four defendants charged with sexual assault in North Carolina can expect to be convicted of that charge or a related reduced charge, and some parts of the state generate few if any sexual assault convictions, according to Carolina Public Press’ analysis of state court data.
In 38 counties across North Carolina, zero defendants charged with sexual assault were convicted of that charge or a reduced charge in 4 1/2 years.
Even when evidence exists in a sexual assault case in North Carolina, the right circumstances make a difference. And so do jurors.
A 40-year-old legal precedent makes North Carolina the only state in the country where withdrawing consent doesn’t make continued sex a crime.
Signature of Gov. Roy Cooper makes NC sexual assault legislation law, closes loopholes and offers protection for child victims.
A virtual event allows Martin to pull back the curtain on her investigative reporting process.
Las victimas de la violacion necesitan enfermeras especializadas, pero nadie en NC las siguen en registros
Una encuesta de hospitales de la NC encontró resultados desiguales para la dotación de personal de enfermeras examinadores de asalto sexual. Algunas describieron a víctimas de violaciones que visitaban varios hospitales hasta que encontraron uno con el personal adecuado.
Social distancing rules and hospital conditions force changes in protocols and procedures in responding to NC sexual assault cases during pandemic.
In the wake of concerns from a rural nonprofit and questions from the attorney general, HCA stands its ground on sexual assault nurse examiners.
High-impact investigative stories, keeping watch on public officials and shining light on tough topics: The best from Carolina Public Press in 2019.
Data shows NC sexual assault cases taking years to resolve, whether due to strategic delays by attorneys, evidence testing issues or court procedures.
CPP lead investigative reporter Kate Martin discusses her coverage of NC sexual assault laws and the road to last week’s passage of reforms.
Loopholes on revoked consent and incapacitated sexual assault closed without opposition by North Carolina House and Senate.
SB 199 would close loopholes for incapacitation and revoked consent, increase time for child victims to sue. Lawmakers to OK or reject slate of reforms.
Conference committee combining proposals to close loopholes on withdrawal of consent and sexual assault of an incapacitated person, with bipartisan support.
A bill closing a loophole on sexual assault passed the NC House with bipartisan support. But senators haven’t taken it up as they near adjournment.
The Carolina Public Press news team talks about the slow pace of sexual assault cases in the NC court system on this episode of the Kicker.
Watch a Carolina Public Press Newsmakers forum on issues surrounding convicting sexual assault crimes in North Carolina. On Monday, April 29, legislation proposed by a lawmaker, and panelist at this forum, to close several loopholes in the state’s sexual assault laws received unanimous approval from legislators in the state House.
Majority of House members co-sponsored HB 393, which now heads to Senate.
Carolina Public Press Managing Editor Frank Taylor and Lead Investigative Report Kate Martin discuss their investigative series “Seeking Conviction.”
Sexual assault nurse examiners provide critical services to sexual assault victims – and to law enforcement and prosecutors who rely on evidence.
As of last year, North Carolina had the most untested rape kits in the entire nation, stockpiled at 15,130 kits. A proposed state law aims to change that.
Go behind the scenes of Seeking Conviction to learn how Carolina Public Press analyzed North Carolina sexual assault court data to find conviction rates.
Series is part of statewide investigative reporting collaboration by NC media outlets The statewide investigative news nonprofit organization, Carolina Public Press, will hold a statewide series of community Newsmakers forums conversation focused on concerns about and possible solutions to reporting, investigating, prosecuting and convicting sexual assault cases in North Carolina. The free and public forums,…
MADE POSSIBLE BY
Carolina Public Press created and managed the Seeking Conviction project, in partnership with 10 other news organizations in North Carolina, linked above. We are grateful for their dedication, work and support in making this project happen and enriching the information and context it contains.
Also, this Carolina Public Press collaborative investigative reporting project was ultimately made possible by the financial support of individuals and foundations who believe in CPP’s work to provide independent, in-depth and investigative reporting in North Carolina. Specific support was provided by the North Carolina Local News Lab and the Fund for Investigative Journalism. We are very grateful for their support.
Without you, stories go untold
You can help if you’d like to support this type of reporting, which goes behind the headlines to explore the overlooked and under-reported issues facing our state. Now is the time to ensure in-depth and investigative reporting like this thrives in North Carolina.
What the data revealed
District attorneys are elected public officials in North Carolina, and they represent the state in prosecutions. The district in which they work is called a “prosecutorial district.” Take a look at what happened in your prosecutorial district, when it comes to sexual assault convictions.
Graphic by Cassandra Sherrill of the Winston-Salem Journal.
How did we do this analysis? Read about it here.
Find out what happened in every one of North Carolina’s 100 counties when it comes to the conviction of sexual assault cases.
Graphic by Cassandra Sherrill of the Winston-Salem Journal.
How did we do this analysis? Read about it here.
Video clips and stories
Samantha White: Her story and what she thinks should happen now
Monika Johnson Hostler: Has a decade made a difference?
Monika Johnson Hostler: On how NC compares to other states
Rep. Chaz Beasley: Bipartisan action needed in North Carolina consent law
Monika Johnson Hostler: On NC ruling that says consent can’t be revoked once act has begun
Monika Johnson Hostler: NC statute makes it difficult to seek convictions against perpetrators whose victims have been drinking, doing drugs
Public Newsmakers forum in Fayetteville
Carolina Public Press held a public forum about issues surrounding the conviction of sexual assault cases in North Carolina in Fayetteville on March 19, 2019, following the release of its statewide investigative collaboration, Seeking Conviction: Justice elusive for NC sexual assault survivors.
Panelists are Deanne Gerdes, executive director of Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County; Liz Herring, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Coordinator, Cape Fear Valley Health System; Alicia Marks, assistant district attorney, NC Prosecutorial District 14, Cumberland County; Lt. John Somerindyke, commander, Special Victims Unit, Fayetteville Police Department; and Bella Truong, assistant district attorney, NC Prosecutorial District 14, Cumberland County. Moderators are Carolina Public Press Managing Editor Frank Taylor and lead Investigative Reporter Kate Martin.
Public Newsmakers forum in Raleigh
Carolina Public Press held a public forum about issues surrounding the conviction of sexual assault cases in North Carolina in Raleigh on March 20, 2019, following the release of its statewide investigative collaboration, Seeking Conviction: Justice elusive for NC sexual assault survivors.
Panelists are Rep. Chaz Beasley, Mecklenburg (D); Mary Williams-Stover, executive director of the NC Council for Women; Monika Johnson Hostler, executive director, NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault; Paul Phelan Jr., instructor developer, North Carolina Justice Academy; Lauren Schwartz, sexual assault nurse examiner and director of The Solace Center, InterAct of Wake County; and Amanda Thompson, Laboratory Assistant Director for Administration Operations with the State Crime Laboratory. Moderators are Carolina Public Press Managing Editor Frank Taylor and lead Investigative Reporter Kate Martin.
Public Newsmakers forum in Charlotte
Carolina Public Press held a public forum about issues surrounding the conviction of sexual assault cases in North Carolina in the Charlotte area on March 26, 2019, following the release of its statewide investigative collaboration, Seeking Conviction: Justice elusive for NC sexual assault survivors.
Panelists are Crystal Emerick, founder and executive director, Brave Step; Cori Goldstein, director of Sexual Trauma Resource Center, Safe Alliance; Holly Jones, community partnership and outreach coordinator, North Carolina Department of Justice; and Spencer B. Merriweather III, district attorney, NC Prosecutorial District 26, Mecklenburg County. Moderators are Carolina Public Press Managing Editor Frank Taylor and lead Investigative Reporter Kate Martin.
About the series
Carolina Public Press on CNN’s Headline News
Carolina Public Press lead investigative reporter Kate Martin appears on CNN’s Headline News to discuss Seeking Conviction: Justice elusive for NC sexual assault survivors.
The Kicker, Show 12 | Seeking Conviction
In this episode of The Kicker, Carolina Public Press’s managing editor Frank Taylor talks with CPP lead investigative reporter Kate Martin about Seeking Conviction, a multi-part investigative reporting project that CPP led in collaboration with 10 other news media partners around North Carolina. Seeking Conviction is a data-driven investigation looking at sexual assault prosecutions statewide and in individual jurisdictions.