Resident Sues Dating Apps for Allegedly Helping Hide Rape Evidence

A former North Carolina State University student is suing her alleged rapist in civil court. Aaliyah Palmer’s case spurred North Carolina lawmakers to change their laws concerning consent. She has also brought a civil lawsuit against Tinder and Snapchat. Her lawsuit alleges that the tools used within the applications helped her rapist and his friends hide evidence of the rape.

The plaintiff has alleged that the creators of Tinder purposely designed a secretive communication platform. It goes on to allege that the secretive aspect of Tinder encourages users to create then destroy evidence of rape and other non-consensual sexually explicit content. Finally, she alleges that the rape has caused her significant personal injury and economic harm.

The Plaintiff’s Rapist and Friends Allegedly Used Tinder to Hide Evidence

When she was a freshman in college, in January 2017, she and her friends met a group of soldiers on the Tinder app. The feature allows app users to create groups of friends. Palmer was using that feature, which Tinder has now removed, to meet the soldiers. The soldiers, Palmer, and her friends decided to meet up at a house party in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Palmer consented to have sex with one of the soldiers. However, when he became violent and aggressive during sexual intercourse, she told him to stop having sex. She alleges that during her rape, the rapist’s friends put their camera phones under a door crack and took videos or pictures of the rape. Palmer reported the rape to the police the next day.

While reporting the crime, she told officers that she had seen messages on Tinder from the soldiers admitting that they had evidence of the rape. When she tried to show police officers the evidence on Tinder, it had disappeared. Palmer alleges that the soldiers deleted her from the Tinder group so she would lose access to the messages that contained evidence of the rape.

Palmer’s Story Prompted a Change the Law on Consent to Rape

Some referred to North Carolina’s rape law as the right of a rapist to finish having sexual intercourse. The law stated that a person could not withdraw consent to have sexual intercourse once the sexual intercourse started taking place. Even when a sexual partner became aggressive or violent, the other partner could not withdraw consent to have sex.

Aaliyah Palmer’s experience helped convince North Carolina lawmakers to finally close the consent withdrawal loophole. When she reported the rape to law enforcement, they told her that legally, a rape did not occur since she initially consented to have sexual intercourse. Even though she explicitly told her rapist to stop having sex after he became violent, North Carolina did not recognize the act as rape. North Carolina was also the last state in the United States to make marital rape illegal.

North Carolina law also held that it was not a crime to have sex with an incapacitated person if the person caused his or her own incapacitation by the use of drugs or alcohol. North Carolina recently closed the loophole that did not allow a person to withdraw consent to sexual intercourse. Now that North Carolina lawmakers have closed these loopholes, people must stop having sex when a partner withdraws consent or they will face rape charges.

Palmer’s Civil Lawsuit Against Tinder and Snapchat

In her lawsuit, Palmer alleges that Tinder and Snapchat did not do enough to protect potential evidence of revenge porn and sex crimes. According to the lawsuit, the companies are choosing not to release evidence in order to protect their own profits. Palmer alleges that the rapist’s four friends stood outside the door used their cameras to take videos and pictures of the rape. Some also shouted that they wanted to join the rape.

Palmer filed the civil lawsuit against the five men who participated in the rape that took place in Fayetteville. The lawsuit also names Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, and March Group Inc., Tinder’s parent company. According to Palmer, the rape has negatively affected her life. She had to drop out of her North Carolina State University due to depression. She lost her scholarship along with her dream of one day becoming a veterinarian.

Our Lawyers can Help

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our skilled lawyers represent criminal defendants as well as personal injury plaintiffs. If you have suffered injuries caused by rape, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our Charlotte personal injury law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.