Raleigh rape survivor speaks out after filing suit against Tinder, Snapchat

Joel Brown Image
Saturday, January 11, 2020
Raleigh rape survivor speaks out after filing suit against Tinder, Snapchat
"(My life) is not where I thought it would be," Aaliyah Palmer said with tears in an exclusive interview.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- While ABC11 typically does not name sex assault victims in stories, Aaliyah Palmer says she wants this story told. She says it's about accountability -- not just for her rapist and his friends, but also for Tinder and Snapchat.

She insists Tinder and Snapchat should be doing more to protect potential evidence of sex crimes and revenge porn, but are choosing not to -- to protect their own profits.

RELATED: Raleigh woman sues Snapchat, Tinder, alleging companies helped hide evidence of her rape

Palmer is supposed to be a new college graduate right now.

"(My life) is not where I thought it would be," she said with tears.

She was a first-year student at NC State in Raleigh this time three years ago. But after graduating top in her class at her Charlotte high school, she was already considered a sophomore.

Everything changed that night she and her friends met up with the group of young soldiers from Fort Bragg, they met on Tinder for that house party in Fayetteville. Aaliyah and one of the guys hit it off. They were alone in a bathroom when things got sexual.

"It was consensual at first and then it just got to a point when it wasn't comfortable and I asked him to stop and he didn't," she said describing the moment she says her attacker turned aggressive and violent.

Palmer told Fayetteville Police she was raped that night -- all while her attackers' four friends stood outside the door peeking camera phones under the door and using the camera flashes to take pictures and video in the darkened bathroom -- only compounding Palmer's trauma.

"I have people filming me. I have people shouting they were gonna join in on what's going on," she said. "So for me, my thought is, I don't know what's going to happen when I leave this bathroom."

Palmer escaped that night but says her horror continued when she tried to collect evidence to press criminal charges.

She says the Tinder messages showing the men bragging about the pics and video had been deleted. And the Snapchat video of the crime was inconclusive to police. And soon that was gone too.

RELATED: Raleigh woman sues Snapchat, Tinder, alleging companies helped hide evidence of her rape

Thursday she filed a civil suit in Wake County Superior Court against the five men named in the Fayetteville attack and against Snapchat parent company, SNAP, Inc. and Tinder parent company, Match Group, Inc..

"At the end of the day my life got changed a lot and these guys got a slap on the wrist and that was it," Palmer said. "As far as Tinder and Snapchat go, high schoolers use them, college students use them and unfortunately people that age are very naive and they don't think about the what if's. And these companies aren't protecting them."

Since her assault, Aaliyah became an advocate for a change in the state law that prevented her attacker from facing criminal charges. Previously in North Carolina, a person could not revoke sexual consent. Late last year, the General Assembly voted to close the loophole. Governor Cooper signed the bill into law in December.

RELATED: Gov. Cooper signs bill allowing women to revoke consent during sex

But with this civil suit, Palmer is signaling she is not done fighting.

"It's about getting people to think a little bit more and for holding these guys accountable," Palmer said. "Because victims are ashamed or scared or know they won't be believed. And they know that (the evidence is) gone too. We all know how Snapchat works. But we never think it would work against us."

Like many survivors, Palmer says she's struggled with depression since the attack. She tried to continue her studies at NC State but eventually dropped out. She lost her scholarship along with her dreams of becoming a veterinarian.

Since we first reported on the lawsuit last night -- we have still not heard back from tinder nor Snapchat for comment.