False accusations of sexual assault are rape of a different color.
Almost every month we read of another man freed from prison after years of incarceration because the false accusations that sent them to prison were proven false. Even if there is no conviction, a false allegation of rape can emotionally, socially, and economically destroy a person. False accusations of rape are a form of psychological rape that is not included in the traditional definition of “rape.” And false accusations are not studied enough because it’s politically incorrect to talk about. Meanwhile the names of the accusers are often protected while the names of the accused are not. False accusations are hard to measure and there is not much available research, but the existing research shows the problem is much more common than we are told. For example:
A study in India found 18% of rape accusations are false and are often “coached.”
In a study by the U.S. Air Force, about one-forth of rape accusers recanted just before taking a lie detector test or after failing one. Further research found 60% of the accusations were false. The most common reasons given for making false accusations were spite or revenge, feelings of guilt or shame, or to cover up an affair. McDowell, Charles P., Ph.D. “False Allegations.” Forensic Science Digest, (publication of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations), Vol. 11, No. 4 (December 1985), p. 64. (see Center for Military Readiness article “Sex, Lies, and Rape” for an excellent discussion of false accusations).
Some studies represent false accusations are 50% of allegations examined.
In a nine-year study of 109 rapes reported to the police in a Midwestern city, Purdue sociologist Eugene J. Kanin reported that in 41% of the cases the complainants eventually admitted that no rape had occurred. In a follow-up study of rape claims filed over a three-year period at two large Midwestern universities, Kanin found that of 64 rape cases, 50% turned out to be false. Among the false charges, 53% of the women admitted they filed the false claim as an alibi. Kanin, EJ, “An alarming national trend: False rape allegations,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1994. Kanin was once well known and lauded by the feminist movement for his groundbreaking research on male sexual aggression. But His studies on false rape accusations received very little attention.
According to an expert quoted in the CBC News Story Below, ”for a four-year period from 2003-2007, 31 per cent of sexual assault claims that Ottawa Police investigated were dismissed as unfounded — that is, they never happened — as opposed to unsubstantiated, where there isn’t enough evidence to follow the case.”
According to a 1996 Department of Justice report, “in about 25% of the sexual assault cases referred to the FBI, … the primary suspect has been excluded by forensic DNA testing. It should be noted that rape involves a forcible and non-consensual act, and a DNA match alone does not prove that rape occurred. So the 25% figure substantially underestimates the true extent of false allegations. Connors E, Lundregan T, Miller N, McEwen T. Convicted by juries, exonerated by science: Case studies in the use of DNA evidence to establish innocence after trial. June 1996.
The myth that only two percent of rape accusations are false, often falsely attirubuted to FBI data, is not credible and has been debunked. Greer, The Truth Behind Legal Dominance Feminism’s ‘Two Percent False Rape Claim’ Figure, 33 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 947.
Here are just a few sample stories about false accusations:
Man released on rape charge after 22 years in prison.
Female rapists sentenced for rape and false accusation. And, her name was not released to the press!
The claim that only 2% of rape accusations are false is totally unfounded and is purportedly based on FBI crime data (though we have yet to see this confirmed), and crime data is never a reliable source to project upon the population as a whole, as compared to empirical research. But no matter what the numbers are, there is no excuse for the lack of attention to the problem. Falsely accused persons are victims too, and to deny or downplay the experiences of those victims is a hypocritical form of victim-blaming.
Much more attention and research is needed in this area. False accusers should be prosecuted (they rarely are) and face same punishment their accused could receive. And the names of the accused should be protected as much as the names of the accusers. For more, see http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/
We should give men charged with rape anonymity and like the rare cases above charge their accusers and release the women’s names to protect the public.