For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 21, 2022

(RALEIGH) The Josh Stein for Attorney General committee, campaign ad maker Ralston Lapp Gunn Media Group, and a campaign volunteer who is a survivor of sexual assault joined together today to ask a court to strike down an outdated and unconstitutional North Carolina statute, North Carolina General Statute § 163-274(a)(9). Following two years of an invasive and unfounded investigation triggered by former candidate Jim O'Neill, Stein released the following statement:

"Fighting on behalf of victims of sexual assault has been a top priority of mine as Attorney General -- and I'm proud of the results my team and I have achieved attacking the backlog of untested rape kits. I was also proud to share my record on this issue during the 2020 campaign. But my opponent, Jim O'Neill, misled voters about my record.

"I had to set the record straight. We did that through a campaign ad we called Survivor. Of the more than 15,000 untested kits in local law enforcement custody across the state, more than 1,500 - about 10% - were actually in O'Neill's prosecutorial district of Forsyth County. As District Attorney, O'Neill has a constitutional duty to advise local law enforcement agencies within his jurisdiction. While he claimed that clearing the backlog was his top priority, he failed to make sure that these kits got tested.

"Our ad outlined these facts. An outside fact-checking firm confirmed that the ad was accurate and two independent media organizations reviewed it - neither concluded it was false. I proudly stand by this ad. 

"O'Neill apparently didn't like being held accountable. He triggered a State Board of Elections investigation into the ad, using a nearly 100-year-old statute that has never been used before, likely because it's so clearly unconstitutional. 

"After two years of this baseless investigation - with which we have fully cooperated - we have had enough. We are asking the court to step in and declare this statute unconstitutional. It’s past time to resolve this issue.

“I am committed to getting justice for survivors and putting rapists behind bars. I will not be distracted from our work to make North Carolina safer and stronger."

More Information: 

- Professor Michael Gerhardt’s declaration, which states that this law is clearly unconstitutional. Professor Gerhardt is a UNC School of Law constitutional law expert.

Statement from former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr articulating his concern about the constitutionality of this statute.

- A timeline of events, including a thorough review of AG Stein’s work to test kits and O’Neill’s false stories.

- A fact sheet that overviews the statute, O’Neill’s false stories, and AG Stein’s record on getting justice for victims of sexual assault.

- Today’s filings in court.