Rape is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, tho never so innocent.
I think this article should serve as a nice finale to my little ‘series’ or what-have-you that I have written recently on sexual behaviours and sex differences in sexual interactions & encounters. In my two previous posts, published over the past week or so, I discussed the sex differences in misprediction bias & estimation of sexual intention and I reviewed sex differences in desired outcomes of hook-ups which included evidence that showed how Tinder users still subscribe to the same primitive mating strategies.
All this research shows the thinking and behaviours of people before sexual encounters, showing what it is both sexes want and look for. This information was used to understand how miscommunication between the sexes can occur. Now, I wish to explore afterwards. What happens after a sexual encounter when a ‘faux pas’ or even an assault or a rape is alleged? Can we measure if there is any underestimation or misrepresentation? Can we figure out who is right and who is wrong? If so, how?
Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of a single ‘benchmark’ study that can be found in the social science literature. There are many studies on the matter but, they all have their limitations. The HMcpsi report ‘A Report on the Joint Inspection into the Investigation and Prosecution of Cases involving Allegations of Rape’ says in paragraph 6.18:
“The inspection team was surprised to find a relatively high figure for false allegations of rape and, as identified within the literature review, there is a scarcity of research by police into this area [Emphasis mine]. Indeed, with the competing pressures for resource allocation this may be understandable. However, this is clearly an area that could be pursued further to establish if this is an issue of incorrect recording, a workplace cultural issue, or what factors motivate those who make false allegations of rape, be they male or female.”
Also, there’s the issue of defining a false allegation of rape: are all those that fail to result in a conviction false? Those where evidence was insufficient: were they false? What about no-crime events? Those that can be proven as malicious lies are obviously false but, very few false accusers are willing to step forward and confess to lying. What about false yet honest testimony? And so, studies that have assessed the prevalence rates of false allegations of rape all have used various methodologies and definitions, resulting in no firm consensus on just exactly how many allegations are genuinely false.
Before I carry on with this blog-post, I should like to link to Mark Pearson’s Crowd Funding Page. As you will read below, he was subject to a false accusation that was easily disproved by CCTV yet, was not because the police edited the CCTV in an attempt to aid prosecution against him. Please, help him in any way you can. I will link to this page again below.
- False allegations kill
- The conviction rate for rape allegations is 6.8%
- The ‘no crime’ rate is 10.8%
- The false allegation rate is 11.8%
- 25% of rape allegations are withdrawn
- Thus, the ‘no crime’ rate is 58.8% greater than the rape conviction rate, the false allegation rate is 73.5% higher and the withdrawal rate is 3.7 times the conviction rate
- The vast majority of false allegations made to police serve as alibis or to attain attention/sympathy, rather than serving as malicious attacks used to directly harm someone
- Around half of false allegations are made by someone other than the victim
- Only 16.5 – 26.1% of all estimated rapes are reported to the police
(Most of the information and images for the cases cited below are taken directly from the articles I link.)
Jemma Beale, 25, a dangerous fantasist who made up rape and sex assault claims against 15 innocent men, has been jailed for 10 years. She falsely claimed to have been raped by nine people and sexually assaulted by six others over a period of three years.
One of her victims spent two years in prison as a result of a fake rape allegation which she later boasted had netted her £11,000 in compensation. Another man fled the country, terrified when he was falsely accused of sexual assault. Beale, from Middlesex, would even injure herself with cuts and bruises to convince police she had been attacked by the men.
Jay Cheshire was 17 when he was falsely accused of rape by an unknown (and legally protected) classmate, the allegation was dropped two weeks later. A few weeks after, unable to cope with the stress and pressure of the false allegation, he was found hanging from a tree in a local park. Central Hampshire senior coroner Grahame Short recorded a verdict of suicide and said he struggled to cope with the false accusation and the investigation. He said: “I got the impression he was well liked and mature in some ways, but was a sensitive young man and vulnerable in some respects and he found it difficult to cope with the police investigation.” A few days after he was found, his mother had to make the heart-breaking decision to switch off his life-support.
A year later, Karin Cheshire was found hanged in her son’s former bedroom. By the time she took her own life she faced having to move out of the family home. Concluding a verdict of suicide, coroner Grahame Short said the potential move was a “major factor” in the timing of her decision to take her own life. He said: “She was losing the sense of what she had with the house, places like Jay’s bedroom, and they were clearly very special to her.”
Louis Richardson, the former head of Durham University’s debating society, had been accused of raping and sexually assaulting one woman and sexually assaulting another. But a jury at Durham Crown Court took less than three hours to find Mr Richardson, from St Helier in Jersey, not guilty of all charges.
He engaged in drunken sex with a fellow student who said she had no recollection of the night and the first she knew was the following morning. She maintained a sexual relationship with him, sending him pictures of her breasts in underwear. She claims she was “in awe” of him, saying “He was such a confident person and everything I was not”. After going on a holiday with her boyfriend, she returned and accused him of rape, refusing further contact with him.
Mark Pearson, a 51-year-old artist, was on his way home from work when he passed through Waterloo station, got on the tube and went home. Two months later, six police officers turned up at his door and took him down to the station, saying he had punched a woman and managed to insert three fingers inside her vagina whilst walking pass her in Waterloo station in full view of everyone. Despite taking less than a few seconds, this alleged assault was so bad, all the people in the near vicinity turned and gasped in shock. Except, CCTV footage showed it to be completely false.
The victim (I use that word with the utmost irony) alleged the perpetrator was 6-foot and had a full head of hair (Mark is 5 foot 9 inches and his hair speaks for itself); she also failed to recognise herself in the CCTV footage. She even denied it was him when he was in the line-up. The CPS pushed on anyway, slowing down the CCTV to misrepresent how long he had to commit the alleged attack.
A woman drove a man to suicide by crying rape and forced a second innocent man to consider taking his life after falsely accusing him of a similar sex attack. Despite being exposed in court as a serial liar, legal restrictions mean the 21-year-old woman can never be identified. A jury took only 45 minutes to clear medical student Olumide Fadayomi, 27, of rape. But several jurors at Sheffield Crown Court broke down in tears when the judge revealed the ‘victim’ had a history of crying rape.
Follows the case of Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of raping a young white woman, Mayella Ewell. Local middle-aged lawyer Atticus Finch is appointed to defend him, to the disapproval of many of the townsfolk. I shan’t delve further as my loving audience will have already read this book. If not, stop reading this article and go read To Kill a Mockingbird.
Much in the same vein as To Kill a Mockingbird, Emmett Till was falsely accused of grabbing and sexually threatening Carolyn Bryant when he was 14-years-old (he whistled at her). Two men, one of them Bryant’s husband, later lynched Hill. They beat, shot and disfigured his body beyond recognition but, they were both acquitted of his murder. 62 years later, Bryant confessed to lying about the incident.
A 22-year-old man was falsely accused of rape when he was at university, causing him to drop out. The 15 month ordeal sent the accused from being easy-going to tearful and fearful, his accuser had previously falsely accused another man of raping her (why wouldn’t she, they never face punishment for it!). It took just an hour for the jury to clear him.
The ordeal began in September 2013 when he went to a friend’s black-tie 21st birthday party and met his accuser, a former Oxford University student. Their evening ended with “a few cuddles and kisses” at the house but nothing more. Three weeks later, he bumped into the woman again, spending the day and evening with her and a group of friends. But it wasn’t until two weeks later he received a call from police who said they wanted to question him about a rape allegation at the party.
At first, this woman said she had woken up at the party and found herself being raped. Then that story changed to she had been pinned down and raped. You might have thought the police would suspect she was lying as her story kept changing but, they kept on putting these allegations to him as if they were facts.
On Tuesday 21st November, Emily Lindin, founder of the UnSlut Project tweeted out the below:
Needless to say, she received on hell of a backlash. However, what adds to this is why she founded the aforementioned UnSlut Project.
In an article for The Guardian, she details how she became suicidal and would self-harm (slashing her wrists) because people called her a slut. She was routinely bullied throughout her early teenage years after she let her boyfriend put his hands down her pants when she was eleven. This incident is what opened the floodgates for years of severe bullying.
Therefore, you would assume that she would understand just exactly how hurtful such words and labels can be. Yet, as she lacks any basic empathy, understanding or self-awareness, she is totally okay with falsely and maliciously labelling innocent men as rapists.
Carl Sargeant, Welsh Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside, was found dead four days after First Minister Carwyn Jones removed him from his post in the Welsh Government cabinet amid claims he had ‘touched or groped’ a number of women.
Since his suicide, the investigation against Sargeant has been dropped thus, his suicide was caused by unfounded allegations of sexual assault.
Since his death, an independent inquiry has been called into how Wales’ first minister handled the firing.
Defenceless Dominic Scullion was on his paper round when Paul Caulfield, 41, suddenly attacked him over claims the 16-year-old had raped a schoolgirl. The crazed brute floored Dominic with a single punch and repeatedly beat him about the head as he lay unconscious on the ground. Caulfield was later jailed for eight months, while Dominic, who has always protested his own innocence, was never charged over the sex attack allegations.
Dominic added: “I opened my eyes and saw my dad. He told me it would be OK. Then I blacked out again.” Witnesses claimed they begged Caulfield to stop as he laid into the teenager. Dominic added “My jaw was broken in three places. The bit between my nose and my mouth was also split and needing stitches … I needed surgery to have three titanium strips inserted in my jaw — and I was on a liquid diet for six weeks.”
The Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) document Violence against Women and Girls Report gives us many informative statistics on rape and sexual violence in the UK. For example, the below table is of use:
(MoJ statistics follow the calendar year whereas CPS statistics follow the financial year.)
Naturally, what we can see is that, according to MoJ statistics, 36.4% of rape cases that are proceeded against result in a conviction and, according to CPS statistics, 57.6% of rape cases that are proceeded against result in a conviction. However, the conviction does not necessarily have to be for rape so, to quote: “CPS data below differs, as successful rape prosecutions include not only cases resulting in a conviction for rape, but also cases initially flagged as rape where a conviction was obtained for an alternative or lesser offence”. Thus, these statistics are misleading.
From CPS data 2016–17, 5,045 (98.9%) of cases initially flagged as rape were finally prosecuted for the principal offence categories of ‘sexual offences, including rape’ or more serious principal offences of ‘homicides’ or ‘offences against the person’. Of these, 4,240 were for sexual offences including rape (81.7%); 17 for homicide and 788 for offences against the person.
Later, the document states the number of rape referrals from the police in 2016-17 was 6,611, bringing the final conviction rate (from referral to sentencing) for 2016-17 down to 45.2%. MoJ do not hold data on referrals from the police. As these statistics cover just one year and I have another CPS document that covers three years (I use it later on), I shan’t be using these figures in the final conclusion.
An older CPS document, titled “Charging Perverting the Course of Justice and Wasting Police Time in Cases involving Allegedly False Rape and Domestic Violence Allegations” sought to find the total number of false allegations of rape and domestic violence.
It found, over a period of 17-months, there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape and 111,891 for domestic violence. During the same period there were 35 prosecutions for making false allegations of rape, six for making false allegation of domestic violence and three for making false allegations of both rape and domestic violence. All cases involving an allegedly false allegation of rape, domestic violence, or both, were sent to the then-Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, to consider personally.
For rape, 0.6% of total convictions were for false allegations and, for domestic violence, the total was 0.005%.
Well, we might as well pack our bags and go home then, Keir Starmer has done it!
Ha, on second thought, let’s not.
As we know, conviction rates do not tell the whole picture. For a start, with my experience in assisting those going through the family courts (in the modest manner that I do), the false allegation rate is CONSIDERABLY HIGHER than 0.6%. If, dear reader, you are worried abusers would lie to us about whether they had been abusive to their ex-partners, they tend not to. In fact, they are surprisingly honest about such things.
Nonetheless, research from the University of Strathclyde found allegations of child abuse featured in around 35% of cases of which 70% were found to be false. 89% of allegations were made by the resident parent, 90% of resident parents were the mother.
Considering the cases mentioned near the beginning of this post, the recently mentioned low conviction rate (45.2% if we include referrals to the police) and the above-mentioned study, I am inclined to believe that a greater amount of allegations are false, rather than 0.6%.
Reasons for Making False Rape Allegations:
Not all cases of false rape allegations are malicious – that is to say, they are not made with the intent of directly causing someone harm. Whilst the accuser may be aware that harm may befall unto the accused, even if the awareness is only peripheral, the accuser may have a different motive entirely.
According to a collaborative study in Partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the most common reasons for filing a false report are: seeking attention or sympathy (medical or personal), to provide an alibi / avoid trouble (missed curfew, breaking law or was unfaithful to a partner) and mental illness; see below for findings (note: the below table does not show the total prevalence of false accusations rather the prevalence of motives for false accusations).
However, as can be seen from the above table, 23.6% of the false allegations made were motivated by anger or revenge. I personally would add ‘Regret/Guilt’ to the classification of ‘malicious’ because accusing someone of rape because you regret engaging in sexual relations with them is low it is beyond despicable.
Another contributing factor is who makes the allegation(s) as it is not always the victim who puts forward the allegation or, in some cases, it’s not always the victim who wants to put forward the allegation, sometimes they are coerced into doing so.
Consider the case of Hanna Stubbs who was coerced into accusing her ex-boyfriend of rape by a supposed-friend who now enjoys legal protection so cannot be named. This ‘friend’ wrote an accusatory message for Hanna to send her ex-lover, essentially indicting him of rape. Hanna had little to no input in the formulation and sending of the message. This friend coerced and manipulated Hanna every step of the way, she was the person who phoned the police to put forth the accusation of rape. The manipulation and stress of being turned against her ex-love by another person resulted in Hanna taking her own life. She had suffered a history of mental health issues, which were undoubtedly capitalised upon by the manipulator.
An outsider making the accusation on the behalf of an alleged victim is not uncommon, one study found 41.7% of false allegations made were from someone other than the victim and another found, in reports of rape that the alleged victim later retracted, 62% were not made by the alleged victim.
Eugene Kanin’s explosive 1994 study followed a police agency in a small metropolitan area (population size of 70,000) in the Midwestern United States that had the resources to be able to thoroughly peruse all rape complaints. The investigation of all rape complaints at that agency always involved a serious offer of a polygraph to the complainants and the perpetrator; cases were only ever deemed false if the complainant confessed to the fabrication. No matter how shaky the story, no matter how weak the evidence, no matter the outcome of the polygraph, an allegation was not deemed to be false unless the complainant retracted the allegation directly, stating no rape had occurred. Finally, the station separated reported rape attempts from completed rapes. The station was followed from 1978 to 1987.
During this time, there were 109 forcible rape cases, of which 41% were false (N = 45). Over the nine-year period, the rate of false accusations varied, from a low of 27% (3 out of 11) to a high of 70% (7 out of 10). The nine-year period suggested no trends and no explanation can be made for the fluctuating rate of accusations.
Whilst there were noticeable features of the women who made the false allegations, comparing what little information was provided with the information of the victims of completed rape, there are no distinguishable differences. That is, the demographics of the women providing false allegations were similar to the demographics of those who genuinely suffered rape.
Three themes were noted in the false allegations: providing an alibi, a means of gaining revenge, and a platform for seeking attention/sympathy. This tripartite model resulted from the complainants’ own verbalizations during recantation and does not constitute conjecture. Of course, there is no assertion that these functions are mutually exclusive or exhaustive; rather, these rape recantations focused on a single factor explanation.
Of the 45 cases of false charges, over half were for providing an alibi (56%, n = 27) and an assailant was identified in about half of these cases. Alibis were wanted by the accuser to cover for sudden and unfortunate consequences of a sexual encounter. In one case, a 16-year-old was worried that, after sex with her boyfriend, she might become pregnant, so provided a false accusation citing some unknown assailant in the hope the hospital would provide her with an abortion. All bar three of the cases followed the pattern of ‘fear of pregnancy’, reasons given were: race of lover, husband was out of state on a job, husband had a vasectomy, and the condom broke.
Revenge accusations accounted for 27% of cases (n = 12) and were usually in response to a rejecting male. Kanin says:
“These rejections, however, ranged from the very evident cases of women who were sexually and emotionally involved with a reciprocating male to those women who saw themselves spurned from what was in reality the females’ unilateral involvement. Regardless, these women responded with a false rape charge to perceived rejections. Because the suspect is always identified, the false allegations potentially pose the greatest danger for a miscarriage of justice.”
Attention/Sympathy-Seeking accusations accounted for 18% of cases (n = 8) and, whilst most extravagant of reasons, is also the most socially harmless in that no perpetrators were named, according to Kanin.
Other themes were noticed in false-rape allegations, to quote:
“First, false allegations failed to include accusations of forced sexual acts other than penile-vaginal intercourse. Not one complainant mentions forced oral or anal sex. In contrast, these acts were included in approximately 25% of the founded forcible rape complaints. Perhaps it was simply psychologically and socially more prudent for these women to minimize the humiliation of sexual victimization by not embroidering the event any more than necessary. This phenomenon has been observed previously (McDowell and Hibler, 1987).”
No cases featured elements of extortion or blackmail, despite having been seen quite often in other studies. Also, no apparent case of pseudologia phantastica (also spelled pseudologia fantastica) surfaced (delusional state in which the complainant truly believes that she had been raped although no rape, and perhaps no sexual contact of any kind, had taken place. Since she firmly believes this non-fact, her story is unshakable). Whilst occasions of false-rape accusations due to mental health do occur, none were present in this study.
Kanin concludes at the end of the study:
“We feel that these false accusations can be viewed as the impulsive and desperate gestures of women simply attempting to alleviate understandable conditions of personal and social distress and that, as an aggregate, labels connoting pathology, e.g., delusional states, are uncalled for.”
Thus, one could argue most false-rape allegations are not inherently malicious by design (intent on directly causing an individual or a group actionable harm) but, serve as a means of protection/defence because the accuser is fearful of or stressed about something. He continues:
“Consider the extravagant and perjurious accusations that routinely pepper divorce and child custody proceedings, and the inordinate departures from the truth that have accompanied credentialed and respected political and corporate figures in their quest for recognition and office. And think of the petty and commonplace transgressions that people frequently verbalize as reasons for having committed homicide.”
Arguably, false-rape allegations can be viewed in much the same light as these similar falsehoods, not that this justifies a false allegation of rape in any slight sense.
In the addenda, Kanin adds:
“In 1988, we gained access to the police records of two large Midwestern state universities. With the assistance of the chief investigating officers for rape offenses, all forcible rape complaints during the past 3 years were examined. Since the two schools produced a roughly comparable number of rape complaints and false rape allegations, the false allegation cases were combined, n = 32. This represents exactly 50% of all forcible rape complaints reported on both campuses. Quite unexpectedly then, we find that these university women, when filing a rape complaint, were as likely to file a false as a valid charge. Other reports from university police agencies support these findings (Jay, 1991).
Approximately one half (53%) of the false charges were verbalized as serving an alibi function. In every case, consensual sexual involvement led to problems whose solution seemed to be found in the filing of a rape charge. The complaints motivated by revenge, about 44%, were of the same seemingly trivial and spiteful nature as those encountered by the city police agency. Only one complainant fell into the attention/sympathy category. ”
I find these results disturbing yet unsurprising.
David Lisak, writing in Sexual Assault Report 2007, voiced concerns about the methodology and validity of this study, citing Kanin’s reliability on the police officers’ judgments in discerning the validity of false allegations of rape. Kanin says “Currently, the two main identifiable adversaries involved in the false rape allegations controversy are the feminists and the police” to which Lisak replies “By his own logic, then, simply echoing the opinions of police officers is not going to shed any additional light on the issue.” The only real way to assess the reliability of Kanin’s study is through replication.
[Addendum: Dr Wendy McElroy has criticised the work of David Lisak, asking whether he is a deeply flawed researcher or a fraud. There are also accusations he fiddles with his statistics to make himself more appealing for speaking arrangements and the such-like. Thus, Lisak’s criticisms are hypocritical.]
Zutter, Horselenberg & Koppen, 2017:
Continuing much in the same vein as Kanin, Zutter, Horselenberg & Koppen, 2017, assessed 57 proven false allegations that were provided by and studied at the National Unit of the Dutch National Police (NU). In analysing these 57 cases, they found that Kanin’s list of motives for filing a false allegation is valid but, insufficient in explaining all the different motives for filing a false complaint.
Specifically, Kanin’s list failed to mention ‘gain’ however, they do note:
“One could argue that revenge, an alibi, and attention or sympathy are also some form of gain. The difference, however, is that revenge, an alibi, and attention or sympathy are emotional gains while a motive like a promotion to a better job is more a material gain.”
There is ‘gain’ in some sense attained with the former yet, the latter is specifically designed for ‘gain’ hence, the difference.
Another issue raised is the problem of consensual but unwanted sex that is later re-labelled as ‘rape’, which the author’s state is worryingly common:
“Unwanted but consensual sex is common (Bay-Cheng&Eliseo-Arras, 2008; Erickson&Rapkin, 1991; O’Sullivan&Allgeier, 1998; Philips, 2000). In the study conducted by O’Sullivan and Allgeier, 26% of men and 50% of women reported at least one occasion in which they had engaged in unwanted, but consented, sexual activity in a 2-week period. The element of a not wanting, a lack of desire, is used to justify the false allegation of rape. But the complainant is still aware of the fact that she was not raped and consented to the sexual encounter. Lay people tend to associate rape with not wanting.”
This is a very worrying concept and my nerves are not eased with what follows next:
“Studies on fabricated rape have consistently shown that lay people tend to associate not wanting sex with rape (DeZutter, Horselenberg& van Koppen, 2016; DeZutter et al., 2017). Thus, if a complainant recounts her unwanted consensual sexual encounter to friends and family, her social environment will react with the label of rape. Once the consensual sexual encounter is labeled rape by the environment, it creates a proverbial point of no return in the head of the complainant who decides to file a false allegation of rape at the police station instead of confronting her social environment with the assertion that their label is invalid (Veraart, 1997, 2006).
If regret is the motive to file a false allegation, the complainant experiences negative feelings such as disgust, shame, and sorrow. The negative feelings are typically noticed by close friends or relatives who will ask about the source of the negative feelings. The sexual encounter may then be labeled as rape by others. The complainant may not have the courage to admit that she also played a vital role in the sexual encounter. The complainants are often persuaded by others to file a false allegation (Veraart, 1997).”
Consent is not about ‘wanting’ but ‘allowing’ and is next to never treated as a contract where all parties sign a form detailing the ‘deal’ or ‘trade’ that is about to take place; consent is given without the involvement of such measures and this can act independently of whether the sex is entirely wanted or not. This results in a distortion of events after said events have taken place, leading to a wide variety of issues.
Deborah Davis, from the University of Nevada, names this phenomenon ‘Honest False Testimony’, that is, they both remember the same encounter differently thus resulting in two different statements given. Both parties can engage in fore-play, consent and approval is expressed non-verbally, be it via non-resistance or open body language but, can later on remember it as ‘rape’ because no direct verbal consent was given – no contract was signed. Regret, shame and an environment screaming “rape” all factor into distorting a person’s memory.
This paves the way for misinterpretation, miscommunication and false ‘gist’ (or fully fabricated) memories for what took place: a state of affairs that can lead both parties reporting honest but completely different accounts of the events in question.
The controversies these past few years of ‘campus rape culture’ stand as testament to the above quote from Zutter et al., how many colleges are claiming that consent to sex can be rescinded post sexual encounter and how a ‘rape hysteria’ builds up following a consented but later questioned sexual encounter.
See what happened to George Lawlor, who was not directly accused of rape by a fellow student but, refused to be subject to collective responsibility and be labelled as a rapist simply for being a man; he was ostracised and bullied, he was harassed in the street and physically attacked. Rape hysteria kicked in, all without an actual rape occurring. This is the effect of the environmental influences mentioned above, rape needs not occur for people to panic about rape.
A recent study shown how men are pressured into ‘unwanted sex’ by external definitions of ‘being a man’, the fear of ridicule and wanting to avoid “uncomfortable interactions”. Study author Josie Ford writes:
“My findings indicate men are motivated to have unwanted sex through a process where they try to avoid embarrassing themselves or their partner and seek to behave in interpretable ways… There is also a tendency—one that likely applies to women as well as to men—that once a sexual interaction starts with a partner who seems to want sex, the desire to keep the exchange on an even keel eventually facilitates unwanted sex.”
Thus, the blind assumption that women are pressured into it by sex-mad men is false, men too often perform despite not wanting it.
Returning to Zutter et al., they continue and detail their expanded list:
“Complainants file a false allegation out of material gain, emotional gain, or mental disturbance. The list can be subdivided into eight different categories: material gain, alibi, revenge, sympathy, attention, a disturbed mental state, relabelling, or regret.”
To ensure there were no false positives, false rape allegations were only added to the list if “the complainant retracted the allegation and said that the allegation was, in fact, false and no rape whatsoever had occurred. Also, the alternative scenario had to be supported by corroborative and conclusive evidence. Thus, a retraction was the first and necessary step, the second step was a thorough investigation to proof that the allegation was false, and the third step was evidence of what truly happened which corroborated the retraction or confession of the complainant.”
After assessing all the relevant case files, they had 57 false rape complaints, the results are below:
The category of ‘I don’t know’ was added because many of the complainants stated they did not know why they filed a false rape complaint. I would argue this is a sub-category of ‘Disturbed mental state’ because one would have to be undergoing a disturbed state of one’s mental faculties to falsely come forward as a victim of rape for no discernible reason.
As seen in the table above, emotional gain was the predominant motivation for filing a false allegation; the majority, 60% of all complainants, had an emotional motive, which is consistent with Kanin’s findings. Five complainants used the false allegation as revenge, to retaliate against a rejecting male. The number of complainants that was motivated by revenge was smaller in the current study than in the study by Kanin. Kanin found that 12 out of 45 complainants were motivated by revenge.
The authors continue the list and expand by adding ‘Regret’ and ‘Relabelling’:
“Three complainants filed a false allegation because they regretted a consensual sexual encounter. Two complainants regretted and were ashamed that they had engaged in group sex activities. Two complainants filed a false allegation because they relabelled a consensual sexual encounter as rape. One could argue that the two categories should be combined because some form of regret forms the basis for both. There is, however, a difference between regretting a consensual sexual encounter and relabelling a consensual sexual encounter as rape.”
‘Relabelling’ is interesting because of what was mentioned earlier about unwanted sex and the environment, how a consensual sexual encounter can later be relabelled as rape because of regret or because of the environment. For evidence, see the prior mentioned Hanna Stubbs case. Notably, the environment is mentioned:
“The complainants who regretted the consensual encounter tried to alleviate the negative feelings or restore their self-image by filing a false allegation. The complainants who relabelled the consensual sexual encounter deceived the police saying they were raped although they knew they had consented at the time of the sexual encounter and as a result of external pressure had labelled the consensual sexual encounter as rape which resulted in a point of no return.”
However, ‘Relabelling’ is one of the least common motives for false rape allegations but, this does not soften the impact of such an allegation. For evidence, I again refer to the case of Hanna Stubbs.
Unfortunately, the motive ‘Unknown’ is common because of lack of data in the police case files.
The results found in this study are similar to those found in Kanin’s, granting reliability to his findings. What also helps is that Zutter et al. assessed the case files of the false allegations as well, applying an extra layer of scrutiny. Cases the author’s assessed to be invalid because a strong ground truth could not be identified were dropped from the study (N = 2).
When Does ‘No’ Not Really Mean ‘No’?
The common mantra is “No means No” but, as both men and women can testify: no sometimes means yes. Dr Carol Tavris, American social psychologist and feminist, delivered a speech at The Amazing Meeting 2014 titled ‘Who’s Lying, Who’s Self-Justifying? Origins of the He Said/She Said Gap in Sexual Allegations’ in which she discussed many of the issues pertaining consent and false allegations (it’s an interesting talk well worth the watch).
Such issues she discussed were the problems with memory, how situations are consensual but, later on, are relabelled as rape – be it due to personal anxiety or caving to external pressure. One particular phenomenon she mentioned was ‘Token Resistance to Sex’, that is to say a person is expressing rejection/resistance but, their ‘no’ doesn’t actually definitively mean ‘no’.
She discusses the issues with the word ‘no’, commenting how, to the feminists dismay, the mantra “No means No” has no real-world effect and that study after study has proved its invalidity. She notes how ‘no’ can mean several things:
- No (it can actually mean ‘No’)
- In a little while
- I want to but I don’t want to appear too easy because then I’ll be called a slut and I’ll have to go through all that ‘slut-shaming’ thing
- Persuade me
This is the issue with ‘No means No’ because, sometimes, ‘No doesn’t mean No’.
This isn’t just ‘sexist, misogynist, MRA-garbage’ or, whatever the feminists and gender-ideologues will call it, it’s a real thing. Anyone who’s ever had sex will know this (hence why the feminists and gender-ideologues are so blissfully unaware).
She then mentions a study (alas, not by name) where 100% respondents said a man should stop sexual advances when he is given a ‘no’ (flying right in the face of the ‘Rape Culture’ myth) but, nearly half of respondents (of both sexes) said when a woman says ‘no’ she doesn’t always mean it, both sexes play the game of ‘Token Resistance’ and a third to a half of the females said they first respond to a sexual overture with an intentionally token ‘no’.
But, it’s not only women who engage in Token Resistance, men do it too. Also, men and women (as mentioned earlier) consent to unwanted sex. So, this leads to a serious predicament: if a ‘no’ is verbally expressed by a female but she means ‘yes’, to which the male responds to the ‘yes’ and they engage in sexual intercourse, does that mean the intercourse was rape? If ‘No means No’ is to be believed then, yes, he’s a rapist. If we are to accept that she was implying ‘yes’ when she said “no” then it wasn’t but, how do we prove either way? With the issues of Honest False Testimony and the impact of socio-environmental pressures, these grey-zones can easily become fertile grounds for false allegations of rape.
Obviously, the reverse cannot be considered in today’s world because #OnlyMenRape. I would like to say I’m joking but, not only is that is the accepted narrative but, over here in the UK, it is the law.
Further, Dr Tavris mentions Deborah Davis’ Dance of Ambiguity: how sexual partners don’t express intention through words but through body-language and other non-verbal communication so as to subtly convey intention. This is to protect ego such that one can reject the offer but not the suitor or, one can accept but postpone the offer in lieu of foreplay, etc. This works great between bonded partners who can understand and read each other but, should one expression can be misread it can result in a lost opportunity for sex or, even worse, sexual advances occurring without them being wanted (which comes with all the added baggage mentioned earlier).
Another factor, as was discussed last week, there is both an overestimation bias and an underreporting bias in sexual intention: men overestimate women’s sexual interest and women underreport their sexual intention. Naturally, this can lead to difficulties in expressing and reading intention.
After, Dr Tavris mentions how the number one indicator of consent, used roughly equally by both sexes, is the lack of resistance: if someone does not reject my sexual advance, that means they want me to step closer and the reverse: if I do not reject his/her advance, that’s me saying ‘yes’. As with before, only one error of miscommunication needs to occur and things can seriously go awry, leading to unwanted sex or a missed opportunity.
Prevalence of False Allegations:
As definitions of ‘false rape allegations’ vary greatly and, because methodologies employed to study them vary greatly also, statistics showing the prevalence rate of false allegations vary wildly. As mentioned earlier, Kanin found 41% of allegations made to the police to be false however, his methodology was questioned by Lisak. Starmer’s statistics mentioned earlier found that for rape, 0.6% of total convictions were for false allegations and, for domestic violence, the total was 0.005%. So, the question is, where does the true statistic lie? Unfortunately for us, that is a question not easily answered however, I will try to show something using what is readily available to us.
Let’s take a step back in time to 1986 when the Home Office issued circular 69/1986 as a response to a tendency of the police to no-crime large number of reports, the circular gave guidance as to when to classify a report as a no-crime. As stated in Rumney (2006):
“The purpose of this circular was to improve the accuracy of police recording practice in an attempt to ensure that the no-criming label was attached only to those reports that were untrue, rather than to cases where, for example, the complainant withdrew her allegation or where there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. For an offence to be no-crimed the circular sets out two criteria: that the complainant retracts the allegation and admits to fabrication. These criteria are clearly strict.”
It was successful, the circular had a significant impact in that there was a 50% increase in criming of rape reports during the three-year period under review, according to Smith, 1989. Rumney then cites Harris & Grace, 1999, who said of rape allegations that were closed as ‘no crime’, 43% were a false/malicious complaint (based on data collected in 1985, see results below). He also cites Grace et al., 1992, who found 66% of reports were designated as false for reasons other than that they were false or malicious.
Gregory and Lees found 50% of the no-crimed cases were designated as such on the basis of the “complainant’s failure to substantiate the allegation” and noted the “diversity of situations covered by this category”. Indeed, they found that the no-crime label was being used in highly inappropriate circumstances such as when a complainant was unable to give evidence in court because of a heart condition or where the ‘‘victim obtained an injunction against the suspect and subsequently withdrew [her] allegation”. This throws into doubt the reliability of ‘no crime’ designations for allegations of rape.
In a study for the Home Office, it was found that one in five of all allegations assessed resulted in ‘no-crime’ yet, only 30% could be designated as ‘false allegations’. The rest could be designated as ‘no evidence of assault’, ‘offence took place outside of jurisdiction’, ‘victim withdrew allegation’, ‘case is dropped because victim is ill or vulnerable’ (I don’t get how that works) ‘insufficient evidence’ and ‘suspect has not been found or identified’. This muddies the water further.
They further state that classifying a case as a false allegation on these bases (other than complainants admitting it or strong evidence to the contrary) violated the police agencies’ own classification rules. Those rules stipulate that a case can only be classified as a false allegation if “there is a clear and credible admission by the complainants, or where there are strong evidential grounds”
However, the most recent data was collected 15 years ago and circular 69/1986 came out 31 years ago. This, plus the huge campaigns the past 10 years to increase prosecutions for sex offences and crimes against women (think VAWG and all the valiant efforts by both Keir Starmer and Alison Saunders), gives us an idea of the implications of the current ‘no crime’ rate for rape which, according to ‘An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales (2013)’, is 10.8%. I am not so naïve as to accept this rate at face value, assuming they are accurate approximately 90% of the time (I know, that’s quite generous), that gives us a final ‘no-crime’ rate for rape of 9.7%. That is not to be used as an official figure, it’s just my crude estimation of the reliability of the statistics. As this is a large study from the Home Office, I feel compelled to accept this as the true value (or, as the truest we can ascertain).
There is also the question of ‘no charge’ instead of ‘no crime’, how many of the ‘no charge’ rape allegations were ‘no crimes’ but evidence was not there to substantiate innocence (and the reverse: how many ‘no crime/charge’ rape allegations did occur but could not be proved)? This can also apply to ‘not guilty’ verdicts.
Returning to ‘An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales (2013)’, it shows on page 7 the police recorded 15,670 rape offences and there were 1,070 convictions for rape, giving a 6.8% conviction rate over the three years where data was collected; they also estimate 60,000-95,000 potential victims but, I’m working purely on submitted cases. If we look at reported rapes, only 16.5 – 26.1% of all estimated rapes are reported to the police. Including the estimated number of victims puts it the rate 1.1 – 1.8%, which is horrendous. Thus, to improve the rate of conviction for rape by a possible factor of 23.7, the best thing to do is report it.
This system naturally provides a very difficult problem: what about the 93.7% other cases/offences?
How many ‘No Further Action’ (NFA) cases were actually crimes that couldn’t be proved?
How many of these are false allegations? No-crimes? Insufficient evidence to prove an offence?
I cannot say with any reasonable measure of certainty.
Britain and False Allegations
Rumney assessed evidence showing the prevalence rate of false allegations of rape in England and Scotland, starting with Smith, 1989:
“During this time there were 447 allegations of rape reported to the police, of which 215 were not recorded as offences. In contravention of circular 69/1986, nearly half of these 215 cases (101) were not recorded because of ‘‘insufficient evidence’’, with another 91 not recorded because the complainant withdrew the allegation. Included within the category of cases not recorded were only 17 complaints that were deemed to be malicious, a rate of 3.8% of the total number of reported cases. However, this study, as acknowledged by its author, was limited. Smith notes that it was not possible to tell whether reports that were not recorded because of insufficient evidence, may in fact, have been false.”
Even though this review has limitations, it still returned a false (malicious) allegation rate of 3.8%.
Citing Harris & Grace again, a false (malicious) allegation rate of 10.9% is returned but, this is attributed to the misuse of the no crime criteria. Also, the authors did not know how the police officers determined the complaint to be false, they only knew that it had been determined as false.
However, Jan Jordan, in ‘Beyond Belief? Police, Rape and Women’s Credibility’, writes this about the UK:
“Detectives in other research, however, believe the proportion of false complaints to be closer to one-half (e.g. Lees, 1997: 184), with Ian Blair noting: “there is considerable evidence that investigators… seem prepared to give serious consideration to the proposition that between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of all allegations of rape are false” (Blair, 1985: 53–4). One cynical detective even maintained: ‘After six years on the force, I don’t believe any of them’ (Burgess, 1999: 9).”
The above quotes display the issue Lisak took with Kanin’s finding, arguing that police opinions cannot be trusted however, as they come face-to-face with both genuine and false rape allegations, they are arguably in an informed position to be able to discern a difference. Note: these are neither official statistics nor the final official decision rather the opinions of police officers.
MacLean, 1979, assessed all the cases of alleged rape in an area adjacent to Glasgow (population size = 100,000) and judged their truthfulness on a scale of ‘genuine cases of rape’, ‘probably genuine cases of rape’, ‘probably false accusations’ and ‘definite false accusations’. Cases were decided through medical examination procedures by forensic physicians. False rape complainants tended not to have suffered injuries, did not appear dishevelled/upset when giving statement(s) and suffered no genital injuries. However, this is not the most rigorous of methodology so a more scientific system was called for. MacLean found 15 of the 34 rape complaints assessed between 1969 and 1974 were genuine and three were considered probably genuine. As Maclean’s evidence is vague and open to interpretation, his results have been difficult to replicate.
The HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMcpsi) 2002 report ‘A Report on the Joint Inspection into the Investigation and Prosecution of Cases involving Allegations of Rape’ found 25% of rape allegations were withdrawn and 11.8% were false (Paragraphs 6.16 & 6.17). Sometimes, allegations are put forward as an alibi by complainants who just don’t realise the full consequences of making such an allegation so, they withdrew it – maybe they made the alibi allegation to friends/family and it blew up in their face. In other cases, they fear repercussions from friends, family, the accused, etc so, they withdraw in an attempt to protect themselves. Other cases they fear having to re-live the event when giving their statement or fear not being believed by the police – maybe they fear the whole investigation.
Liz Kelly, Jo Lovett and Linda Regan from the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University, wrote in their 2005 paper for the Home Office that 8% of allegations of rape resulted in convictions. Assessing multiple studies, they produced the below tables:
Table 3.3 shows how so many cases are lost, between half and two-thirds drop out before reaching prosecutors. The most significant factors in early loss of cases, according to the authors, are designation as false reports and withdrawals by the victim/complainant.
Table 4.1 shows how so very few cases reach conviction: 3.1 times the number of cases end in ‘no crime’ than end in conviction. Of cases that reach CPS/trial, 1.56 times the number of cases end in conviction than end with an acquittal.
Again, as mentioned earlier, I am inclined to use the reports figures from (not for) the Home Office as the ‘true’ figures.
United States of America and False Allegations
I won’t spend too long on this section as I am specifically interested in British statistics (sorry to all my friends across The Pond™).
As mentioned earlier, Kanin found 41% of allegations made to the police are false (true, his methodology can be questioned). 57% of prisoners released by The Innocence Project are convicted rapists who have been proven innocent – 153 of the 268 exonerations in the Innocence Project were for rape. A large number was due to eyewitness misidentification, the people freed by DNA testing were freed because their innocence had been proven.
In 1996, a study published by the U.S. Department of Justice called “Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science: Case Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence After Trial” stated (full disclosure: the only version I could find was an archived text transcript as, due to changes to servers, time, etc, the original could not be found):
“Every year since 1989, in about 25 percent of the sexual assault cases referred to the FBI where results could be obtained (primarily by State and local law enforcement), the primary suspect has been excluded by forensic DNA testing. Specifically, FBI officials report that out of roughly 10,000 sexual assault cases since 1989, about 2,000 tests have been inconclusive (usually insufficient high molecular weight DNA to do testing), about 2,000 tests have excluded the primary suspect, and about 6,000 have “matched” or included the primary suspect.1 The fact that these percentages have remained constant for 7 years, and that the National Institute of Justice’s informal survey of private laboratories reveals a strikingly similar 26-percent exclusion rate, strongly suggests that postarrest and postconviction DNA exonerations are tied to some strong, underlying systemic problems that generate erroneous accusations and convictions.”
“If the foregoing results can be extrapolated, then the rate of false reports is roughly between 20 (if DNA excludes an accused) to 40 percent (if inconclusive DNA is added). The relatively low estimate of 25 to 26 percent is probably accurate, especially since it is supported by other sources.”
This puts the US false rape allegation rate at double or more than the UK rate of false rape allegations. Again, I feel I need to clarify, this does not suggest these are malicious false allegations of rape; recalling the words of Deborah Davis and Dr Carol Tavris: these accusations could be due to memory issues, misinterpretation, relabelling, etc. I give this statistic a little more credence because it comes from the FBI, just as I gave the Home Office statistic more because it’s from the Home Office.
To finish the article, Wendy McElroy writes: “False accusations are not rare. They are common.” I am somewhat inclined to agree.
Non-police False Allegations:
What about the unknown (but estimated to be high) percentage of false allegations that don’t make it to the police, such as those made on social media or made to the school’s Title IX board, those made to friends, etc?
The most famous case of an allegation of rape not initially made to the police is that of Jackie, whose story was featured in TIME magazine. The article was titled ‘A Rape on Campus’ and told the horrendous story of the brutal gang-rape of Jackie at the hands of several fraternity members as part of some sick and twisted initiation ceremony. The story compelled the university to shut down the fraternity and to investigate all the members; huge international debate ensued and all eyes were on the University of Virginia after this appalling case broke light.
Big problem: the story was a huge fabrication designed by Jackie to win the affections of a fellow university student. Whilst it did eventually go to the police, the accusation was not initially made to the police.
This case shows how easily a false allegation can snowball into a national story, consuming resources and wasting hours upon hours of time. Colleges in the US are pushing for more powers to deal with allegations of sexual misconduct, some people have gone so far as to want colleges to deal with them exclusively – because why would Law Enforcement ever need to find out about a possible rape having occurred!?
That system would take the power of law enforcement away from the correct authorities and would place it within kangaroo courts where ‘due process’ does not exist and ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is a joke thrown around by Draconian impersonators of Kafka’s worst nightmares.
But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
So, the question is, how many allegations of rape are made that don’t reach the police? For example, allegations in the family courts, employment tribunals or in college Title IX hearings? Simply put, it’s difficult, borderline-impossible, to tell. If only 16.5 – 26.1% of all estimated rapes are reported to the police, could that also be true for false allegations? We also saw earlier how 70% of allegations of child abuse made in the family courts are false, does that give us an indicator?
Consider the scenarios below, as defined by Scott Alexander:
“Suppose you are a woman who wants to destroy a guy’s reputation for some reason. Do you go to the police station, open up a legal case, get yourself tested with an invasive rape kit, hire an attorney, put yourself through a trial which may take years and involve your reputation being dragged through the mud, accept that you probably won’t get a conviction anyway given that you have no evidence – and take the risk of jail time if you’re caught lying?
Or do you walk to the other side of the quad and bring it up to your school administrator, who has just declared to the national news that she thinks all men accused of rape should be automatically expelled from the college, without any investigation, regardless of whether there is any evidence?
Or if even the school administrator isn’t guilty-until-proven-innocent enough for you, why not just go to a bunch of your friends, tell them your ex-boyfriend raped you, and trust them to spread the accusation all over your community? Then it doesn’t even matter whether anyone believes you or not, the rumor is still out there.”
The final scenario is one Alexander is familiar with as it happened to a friend of his. And, with that scenario, the false allegation spreads like the plague, the accused could live his life not knowing people are whispering about him behind closed doors. It could never reach police but his social circle would steadily deplete until he’s left alone.
Or, it could explode in his face, he loses his job, unaware where this malicious lie came from, suspicious his ex- was the person who started it but, has no evidence because all her friends are keeping schtum. The false allegation is never recorded and people not from his part of the world are none the wiser.
So, long and short, the number of non-police false allegations are … unknown.
And that should terrify everyone.
Detecting False Allegations:
Not only must the self-made victim be exposed, but innocent people who may be suspected must be protected.
Hans Gross, Criminal Investigation (1924, p. 14)
Well, I’ve dug myself in this far, no point stopping now.
Simply put, false allegations are difficult to accurately detect and prove. As quoted above, many police officers give higher estimates of false allegations than official figures show because officers rely on gut-feeling: does the complainant present as a liar? Is the story believable? Does the evidence support the claim(s)? An officer may be presented with a complaint, perceive it to be false but, be stuck in the situation where neither truth nor untruth can be proven.
Or, an officer can be presented with an allegation (or a set of allegations), perceive it/them to be true and be completely bought in by the complaint, arresting the accused (maybe publicly) and causing unknown damage to the life and reputation of the accused. Mark Pearson was the recipient of a ‘Trojan team’, six police officers turned up at his place at stupid o’clock in the morning and took him down to the police station for questioning; an event that has had a significant impact on his life, as it would have on anyone’s.
In the case of Mark Pearson, the allegation was easily falsified (save for the stupidity and arrogance of the Metropolitan Police). The accuser could not identify her attacker from the police line-up, she could not even identify herself from CCTV and CCTV did not corroborate her statement – in fact, CCTV disproved her allegation.
However, the police continued and took him to court.
So, how does one detect a false allegation? Firstly, there is natural gut instinct: does the person come across as honest and is the story believable?
In a Law Enforcement Bulletin, the Federal Bureau of Investigations provides a list of possible clues of what the offender may do:
- continue to make inconsistent statements conflicting prior claims by the individual or information provided by witnesses;
- offer descriptions or circumstances of the reported offense that do not seem plausible or realistic;
- show deception on a polygraph or refuse to take one;
- have a history of mental and emotional problems or false allegations;
- make the allegation after a similar crime received publicity (suggesting modelling or a copycat motive in which the similarity to the publicized crime offers credibility); or
- provide an allegation that lacks substantiating forensic, physical, or medical evidence and does not agree with laboratory findings.
[I noticed the modelling/copycat factor and wondered, how many of these #Pestminster, Hollywood and #MeToo allegations could be modelling/copycat allegations. I guess we’ll never know.]
Noticing several of these indicators can help investigators identify a false allegation case. While none of these signs by themselves indicate a false allegation case, investigators should strongly consider a two-prong investigation with the corroboration of two or more. They say:
“A suspected false allegation requires a two-pronged approach—covert and overt. Of course, overt investigation proves necessary in the early phase of the case before officers identify the complaint as a false allegation. If the claim is legitimate, investigators need to identify and apprehend the offender. They should use all normal resources and carefully protect the reporting victim’s reputation.
The covert investigation focuses on establishing whether the case involves a false allegation crime. Keeping this prong covert helps to avoid prematurely accusing a legitimate victim of a false allegation, prevent derailing the overt investigation, and preserve valuable information for the subject interview. Officers must gather all possible details concerning offenders. Because false allegation perpetrators have serious life problems motivating them, the covert investigation quietly must identify which issues trouble the individual. This type of information proves crucial during the interview process. Investigators need to examine offenders’ personal relationships, employment situation, finances, past criminal history, and other areas of their life to identify any indication of abnormal stress.
Additionally, the covert investigation determines if the offender has made other false allegations or crime reports. Officers also should check with local emergency rescue departments or hospital emergency rooms to discover any false injury or illness reports made by the individual. As the covert investigation progresses, the lead investigator responsible for the overall coordination of the case should receive all information.”
Furthermore, research published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences found most false allegation crimes were committed by women (73.3%) and Caucasians (93.3%); more interpersonally violent allegations were primarily motivated by attention/sympathy needs (50.0%), whereas more impersonal offenses involved other motivations such as providing an alibi (16.7%) or profit (13.3%). Offenders tended to be younger, high school graduates with no higher education (43.3%). A total of 23.3% of offenders had a prior criminal history. Male offenders appeared as likely as women to be motivated by attention/sympathy; however, men tended to select more violent, nonsexual offenses (e.g., attempted murder) than women.
As mentioned above, MacLean (1979) found that false rape complainants tended not to have suffered injuries, did not appear dishevelled/upset when giving statement(s) and suffered no genital injuries. However, the most rigorous of methodology was not used so results are to be taken with a pinch of salt.
As trends can be found and patterns of behaviour can be noticed, it is possible for law enforcement agents to utilise a toolkit to figure out whether an allegation is false however, this is not to justify the use of screening of each complainant. As stated by the FBI, all allegations should be pursued overtly but, if there is suspicion, a second investigation can be initiated covertly.
To conclude, I would like to reaffirm the Key Findings mentioned at the beginning of this article:
- False allegations kill
- The conviction rate for rape allegations is 6.8%
- The ‘no crime’ rate is 10.8%
- The false allegation rate is 11.8%
- 25% of rape allegations are withdrawn
- Thus, the ‘no crime’ rate is 58.8% greater than the rape conviction rate, the false allegation rate is 73.5% higher and the withdrawal rate is 3.7 times the conviction rate
- The vast majority of false allegations made to police serve as alibis or attain attention/sympathy, rather than as malicious attacks used to directly harm someone
- Around half of false allegations are made by someone other than the victim
- Only 16.5 – 26.1% of all estimated rapes are reported to the police
Looking at these rates, this suggests the overwhelming majority of rape cases fall into a limbo of ‘unknown’ status. This is due to a variety of reasons: insufficient evidence, difficulties in ascertaining a ‘ground truth’ from the statements given, police capabilities dealing with accusations, etc.
More research is needed to fully understand the nature of false allegations, how they occur and how to deal with them. This is especially needed in today’s world, with all the complaints made on social media (see #MeToo), the #Pestminster scandal, the Hollywood scandal, etc. So many allegations are flying around it is difficult to keep track of it all.
In fact, yesterday, the Women and Equalities Select Committee announced an ‘expert’ session to review evidence and opinion on the rising tide of allegations. In particular, the Committee will want to understand:
- The evidence about women’s experiences of a sexist culture and sexual harassment
- The causes of sexual harassment and how it links to a sexist culture
- The legal and policy framework for tackling it
- How to prevent sexual harassment from happening.
We can see what outcome the Committee is hoping to arrive at, specifically: men are evil and are all crazy, harassing, rapist-bastards! I daresay the relevant reports showing 25% of allegations are withdrawn, 11.8% are false and 10.8% are ‘no crime’ will not be making any guest appearances.
Committee Chair Maria Miller MP said:
“There has been significant and growing concern over the past few years about routine sexism and sexual harassment that women and girls experience in their daily lives. Recent allegations that have emerged across different sectors have amplified this. Last year, the Committee published a report which uncovered a disturbing level of sexual harassment and sexual violence against girls in schools. We are now interested in hearing about women’s experiences in other environments. In this session, we will hear from experts from different sectors about women’s experiences of sexism and sexual harassment in universities, workplaces, public spaces and online. Once we have a better picture of the problem, we will consider further work on this in the new year.”
Of course, men’s experiences are discounted.
What a joke.
The session will take place on Wednesday 6 December in Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster.