March 13, 2011

Rape Myth #1: She's Probably Lying

ResearchBlogging.orgTawana Brawley. Duke University men's lacrosse team.

If you see a rape allegation in the news, those words aren't far behind. They are talismans, touchstones for the idea that we must never, ever forget that women lie about rape. These women lied; therefore, women lie.

The truth is, of course, that some women do lie about having been raped. That shouldn't surprise us. People make false accusations about every type of crime, even murder, where it is excruciatingly difficult to do. If no woman ever lied about being raped, the gender might have some collective claim to sainthood.

The difference with rape is the reminder. Name someone who gave an acquaintance a gift then accused them of robbery. Find me a blog post about a robbery where one of these people is mentioned. Name someone who is used to demonstrate that insurance fraud occurs--every time a large insurance payout for theft makes the papers. Name one of those audacious people who tried to frame someone for a murder that never happened, even in fiction, then show me how their name comes up every time a body isn't found.

It doesn't happen. We're not told that people lie about these things. We're told that women lie about rape.

The implication in the "women lie" narrative is that we must be particularly on our guard against false accusations of rape, that any particular accusation is unlikely to be true. But is it?

The Rate of False Report
The standard figure passed around by victim advocates suggests a rate of false reports of 8% based on FBI crime statistics from 1997. This is comparable to rates for other crimes. However, citations can be found for rates as low as 1.5% and as high as 90%. In other words, huh? How do we deal with a range that big?

Luckily for those who want to sort out the truth of the matter, two papers came out in 2010 that shed considerable light by examining how false rape report rates are generated. David Lisak, Lori Gardinier, Sarah C. Nicksa, and Ashley M. Cote collected those prior studies that had the best (and most transparent) processes for sorting between false and merely unproven allegations. They also used a similar process for determining the rate of false reports of rape at a U.S. college.

Their results were interesting in two respects. The first is that all the credible studies produced rates close to the standard figure. Rates ranged from 2.1% to 10.9%, with the college study falling in the middle at 5.9%. The numbers on rape just don't support the idea that extra vigilance is required for this crime over others.

The second finding of the study is even more striking. In the authors' own words, "It is notable that in general the greater the scrutiny applied to police classifications, the lower the rate of false reporting detected." Those studies that relied on sorting done by the police produced the highest rates of rape. Those that examined the details of the cases labeled as false and required evidence of lies, rather than merely suspicion, produced the lowest rates. The 2.1% represents accusers who were charged with making false reports, the strictest criteria. (See this post for some thoughts on applying the presumption of innocence equally to accusers and accused in cases of rape.)

What Is A False Report?
The paper from Lisak and his coauthors discusses the criteria that must be met in order for a police report to be classified as false, noting that official statistics frequently include cases not meeting the criteria. Liz Kelly, in a separate paper released in 2010, examines two "attrition" studies, studies that track the ways in which rape cases fall out of the criminal justice system. Aside from convictions, how can rape cases end up classified?

  • Declined to prosecute: Not enough evidence has been turned up to comfortably persuade a jury. Although the legal standard here is "reasonable doubt," prosecutors also face human prejudices when making these decisions, their own and those of potential jurors.

  • Uncooperative victims: The victim has stopped cooperating with investigators or refuses to testify. This will include cases where the victim doesn't want to be responsible for the rapist going to prison, common in all types of domestic assault. It will also include cases in which dealing with the criminal justice system has become too traumatic. More discussion on that later.

  • Victims deemed not credible: The police or prosecutor have decided that the victim is not to be believed. The victim may have personal characteristics that are considered untrustworthy (such as mental illness), or may have memory impairments (such as intoxication) making a clear picture of the rape difficult. This may also cover victims who withhold details of the rape or events leading to the rape out of embarrassment or fear of incrimination. I'll also discuss this in more detail in the next section.

  • No crime occurred: This is different than false reports. This category includes incidents that may have occurred but did not rise to the level of a crime in the jurisdiction involved (for example, failure to stop sex when consent is withdrawn is not codified as a crime in legal statutes in the vast majority of the U.S.). It also involves complaints by third parties that did not hold up when the "victim" was interviewed and cases in which someone went to the police for help determining whether they had been sexually assaulted, usually after a period of unconsciousness, but no evidence of sex was found.

  • False reports: The reporter has plausibly recanted, or substantial evidence exists to show that the accusation is unfounded.

Only the last of these is actually a false report. The rest of them either don't involve an accusation, or they exist in that murky land where we don't know what happened. So how do so many of them end up being included in the false report statistics?

Making the Numbers
It is notable that in general the greater the scrutiny applied to police classifications, the lower the rate of false reporting detected.

Both the Lisak and Kelly papers include multiple studies that compare actual police classification procedures to international standards. To put it briefly, they don't measure up. Depending on the location, any of those other classifications, aside from reports ending in convictions, might end up being included in official figures on false reports.

Some of this may be sloppy paperwork or coding, but part of the problem is the officers themselves. Kelly reports that even among those who are supposed to be experts in rape, the following attitudes can be found:

We have a lot of allegations that are then retracted, we have a lot of allegations that it comes out in the wash one way or another that it was consensual. He says it’s consensual and she doesn’t, or they’ve been together for like hours beforehand, she’s gone back to his flat. . . . But stranger rape, you immediately start to think, “Oh God, this could be a real proper sort of drag you in the car,” absolutely nothing beforehand has happened. I think subconsciously you would consider it more serious. . . . I think I’d have more belief in the victim, that that was saying it was by a stranger, that . . . it was a proper rape, rather than perhaps someone who said “It’s my ex-boyfriend, he came round,” because then you start to think things like, “Oh, she’s just getting back at him now.” (Female detective constable 2)

I have dealt with hundreds and hundreds of rapes in the last few years, and I can honestly probably count on both hands the ones that I believe are truly genuine. (Male detective constable 2)

In addition to finding that coding procedures weren't followed, the attrition studies Kelly reviewed also uncovered investigation techniques that violated international standards. The most egregious of these was offering lie-detector tests to victims, a practice widely viewed as hostile and accusatory toward victims. Using procedures such as these is one way to inflate the number of cases in which victims stop cooperating.

The prevalence of rape myths among the police forces coding reports as false should also be cause for concern when looking at their uncorrected numbers. When the women they consider untrustworthy match the profiles for those most at risk of rape (mentally ill, developmentally disabled, intoxicated, previously victimized--although the papers don't mention it, racial and sexual minority status fall here too), or those exhibiting rape trauma (scattered, faulty memory, embarrassed, ashamed), they are making decisions that push these cases out of the system on a prejudicial basis, not a factual one.

Then there is the fact that law enforcement is under continual pressure to reduce crime rates. That can lead to situations like that uncovered in Baltimore last year by the Baltimore Sun:

The problem in Baltimore is striking, but Baltimore is hardly the only city affected. If you need to change your crime rate, deciding that more rape accusations are "unfounded" is a simple administrative solution.

These examples are why we can't trust raw law enforcement numbers, which provide the citations for "women lie" arguments. If a police force doesn't know what is and isn't rape, how can it decide which rapes are falsely reported? If a police force decides that in he-said, she-said situations, "she" is arbitrarily not to be trusted, how can we trust their decisions on whether or not she lied? If a police forces continue to endorse rape myths, why would we trust their reporting numbers uncritically?

These are decisions that have consequences. They have consequences for the recovery of victims, as being disbelieved is a risk factor for poor recovery after rape (Ullman 1996). And they have consequences for the rest of us as well. The re-offence rate for rapists isn't entirely clear, but the low estimates put it around 20%. Kelly cites three cases of serial rapists in which early victims were recorded as having filed false reports.

Given the small number of false reports found in well-built studies, and the large number of repeat rapists, it might be time to give some serious thought to how well our societal strategy of disbelief serves us.

A Note on Real False Reports
Kelly's paper provides some interesting detail on a sample of reports that were accurately coded as false. Unlike the stereotype, most of the false reports did not involve direct accusations of a particular person. They were stranger-rape scenarios.

Also, in both the stranger-rape and acquaintance-rape scenarios, the false accuser was generally a victim of some sort. Some had been otherwise abused by those people they accused, including prior sexual abuse. Some were reporting rape to avoid abuse they would have otherwise received, as is suspected to the case for Tawana Brawley.

None of that excuses the false reporting of rape. It simply provides an opportunity to think about what might be done to reduce the rate of false reports even further.

Kelly L (2010). The (in)credible words of women: false allegations in European rape research. Violence against women, 16 (12) PMID: 21164212

Lisak D, Gardinier L, Nicksa SC, & Cote AM (2010). False allegations of sexual assualt: an analysis of ten years of reported cases. Violence against women, 16 (12), 1318-34 PMID: 21164210

Ullman, S. (1996). SOCIAL REACTIONS, COPING STRATEGIES, AND SELF-BLAME ATTRIBUTIONS IN ADJUSTMENT TO SEXUAL ASSAULT Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20 (4), 505-526 DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.1996.tb00319.x


Will Shetterly said...

Fully acknowledging that I may be mistaken, I think you misunderstand why people point out that some women lie: the common assumption with rape charges is that the woman is telling the truth. It is significant, I think, that lynching was often connected to charges of rape. Feminists are especially fond of asserting that women don't lie--did you follow any of the #mooreandme tweetfest held by women who assumed Assange was guilty because he had been accused?

This is compounded by the tendency of many people to assume that if someone is charged with any crime, they're guilty.

Where did you find the claim that women lie 90% of the time? I don't think I've ever run into anyone who didn't assume that women were telling the truth most of the time.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Will, look at the quotes from the constables. They've received training (of unknown quality and quantity) on the subject of rape, and their assumption is still that women are lying. Only in situations where they accused is significantly lower in status than the accuser, such as your lynching scenario, is the common assumption that the woman is not lying. What these studies do is emphasize that status is really the deciding factor in who is assumed to be guilty.

Also, you do live in a rarefied atmosphere in many ways (which is a lovely thing, but it doesn't necessarily help with this discussion).

I did follow some of #mooreandme. I also followed a great deal of the blog pushback against the smearing of Assange's accusers and partook in it. I saw one woman who assumed that Assange was guilty rather than that the accusations needed to be taken seriously--a very different thing.

I was also accused of assuming Assange was guilty. I challenged my accuser to point to one place where I said he was rather than arguing the general case that rape accusations are not to be dismissed without an investigation. My accuser couldn't find a spot where I'd done that but remained convinced. He (of course) just knew. That and my sampling of the pushback make me doubt that there was much "He's guilty!" going on.

The 90% came out of the Lisak paper. I can provide a citation when I'm home. I'll also find some links to the kind of "women lie" coverage of other studies. Plus the lovely, foaming blog post that came out while I was writing about Assange to tell me how deluded I was for doing so because women lie. It includes a bunch of the higher-rate studies.

Will Shetterly said...

That there are idiots on police forces, no one denies. But how representative are they? One of my frustrations with the internet is that it magnifies the opinions of tiny minorities.

In lynching scenarios, the lynched were usually of the lower class, but not always. The Leo Frank case is fascinating--the word of a black man during Jim Crow was accepted against a Jew (and Jews in the South were definitely white--Judah P. Benjamin served as Jefferson Davis's Secretary of State).

I'm pretty sure most middle and upper class folk live in a more rarefied atmosphere than I do. I know most academics live in a more rarefied atmosphere than I do. But if you mean I hang with a lot of weirdos, I'll grant that.

#mooreandme was driven by Sady Doyle, who acknowledged that she thought Assange was guilty.

Wikipedia came through on the 90% claim: Stewart, 1981. That seems so crazy that I'd kind of like to read the paper.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Will, I mostly mean that you hang out with a lot of people with a strong emotional commitment to equality. I know your disagreements with them tend to be much more on the specifics of what that means/looks like than on basic principles.

There is a difference between Doyle saying that Assange was probably guilty based on the statistics and arguing that his guilt be assumed. That said, she did say a couple of stupid things in the very large volume of text around the situation. However, we're talking about common assumptions, which aren't invalidated by a single statement here and there to the contrary (much like a power/belief connection is not invalidated by a single example).

How many "Assange did it and he should go to jail now!" statements can you find in the discourse? I guarantee you I can find twice as many "Those women are lying. Assange's jailing is invalid!" statements. I read a lot of them. I linked to a lot of them. I argued against many on the basis of faulty reasoning that I have a hard time chalking up to anything but attempts to support something these guys already "know." That ratio of guilty (of course) to innocent (of course) is the common understanding.

As for how bad the situation is with police, I refer you to the statistics in the Baltimore article. Baltimore is an outlier, but it's not alone in the neighborhood. Nor does it require even a majority of prejudiced officers to hurt many, many rape victims. I also refer you to the rest of this post and the papers cited therein.

And, because I love you, I'll ask whether it might be time for you to disengage on this topic for a bit. I know it hasn't been easy for you in the past, and I don't know that getting further in will help you get back out.

Will Shetterly said...

The problem with the Assange case in this context is it's unique in so many ways. I don't think drawing any conclusions about people's opinions about rape from it is possible. Or rather, I don't think it's possible to draw conclusions about the people who have concluded that his accusers are lying; they may be misogynistic, or anti-US, or anti-CIA, or pro-Wikileaks, and therefore the unprecedented aspects of the case against Assange outweigh the charges of two women. (Yes, it is possible to be pro-Wikileaks and believe the two women's charges are valid, or, like me, to assume that no one should draw firm conclusions about either until there's more evidence. I'm specifically speaking of people like Naomi Wolf here.)

I do think you can draw conclusions about people who so firmly believe that women don't lie about rape that they're able to ignore the unusual aspects of this case.

We agree that rape is a horrible crime that is often badly mishandled. Where we disagree is in the meaning of the reminder that some women lie. The presumption of innocence is crucial to justice, and saying "some women lie" is a reminder of why. I can't knock anyone who assumes innocence rather than guilt.

I hope we can agree that saying "she's probably lying" is as reprehensible as saying "he's probably guilty". And don't worry; all I really want to address here is the difference between "she's probably lying" and your assumption that the reminder of the possibility of innocence implies a probability that the accuser is lying.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Will, the first section of this post explains why "women lie about rape" is different from other expressions of the presumption of innocence. And the fact that you're not engaging with what the post says is one of the reasons I asked whether you need to disengage.

Will Shetterly said...

Stephanie, I didn't engage with your examples because I disagree with your fundamental assumption. I don't think there are enough people who doubt women to claim that "She's probably lying" is accepted by enough people that it needs to be debunked as myth. I think that if you ask most people, they will tell you that most of the time, women are telling the truth.

But Catharine MacKinnon said, "feminism is built on believing women's accounts of sexual use and abuse by men." I sincerely believed that up to the time of the Tawana Brawley case. I now think feminism is simply built on recognizing and eliminating inequalities between men and women.

Well, time to agree to disagree.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Oh, there is direct information on the endorsement of rape myths, if the effects shown in these studies aren't persuasive. In fact, I collected some of it myself. But that's another post. It's coming, I promise.

Becca said...

Will- why don't you google "women never lie". Then count the number of people who are arguing, in earnest, that women never lie about this. Then count the number of people who are 'debunking the myth that women never lie'. Read some of those websites.

Will Shetterly said...

Becca, I know there are macho fools out there. But I ended up doing a lot of research on this after Sady Doyle announced that she believed Assange was guilty, and so far as I saw, no one on her side suggested her condemnation was premature. (I mostly saw people arguing that personal assumption and legal assumption are different. Which is true--legal assumption leads to sentences, and personal assumption leads to vigilanteism.)

Do you really think most people, or even a large minority of people, believe women usually lie about rape?

I did a very quick bit of googling, and came up with this example of "he's guilty because women must stand up for each other":

Note that the person got the winning votes.

This also came up:

Note the first comment.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Will, if my argument-from-Assange is not a good idea, yours probably aren't either. Or, since you started by arguing from Assange in your first comment, perhaps you should take both arguments together.

Will Shetterly said...

I mentioned Assange to point out that there are people today who are so convinced that women do not lie that despite all the unprecedented aspects of his case, they have already convicted him of rape. If it's wrong under those circumstances to point out that some women lie, I don't want to be right. Ahem.

Did the Assange case have nothing to do with your post? It's the rape case where I've most often seen the "she's probably lying" charge. Along with the "he's probably guilty" charge, of course.

Much of the problem is that people want to apply statistics to individuals. But as I pointed out elsewhere, would you want to play Russian roulette if the odds were only 1 in 50? We have trials because we believe it is better for the guilty to go free than for the innocent to suffer. But there are feminists who want to change that; Jessica Valenti wrote, "some activists and legal experts in Sweden want to change the law there so that the burden of proof is on the accused; the alleged rapist would have to show that he got consent, instead of the victim having to prove that she didn't give it."

Becca said...

"Do you really think most people, or even a large minority of people, believe women usually lie about rape?"
Not particularly. Though it's more prevalent than I would like, and hits close to home, because my SO took the 'those women must be lying' view so easily in the Assange case it was a little emotionally disruptive. So I believe it is a myth worth deconstructing. Also, the sheer number of 'macho fools' out there should give you pause. How common does an idea have to be to put forth the data that refute it? Particularly when, as you seem to forget, the data do not argue in favor of the extreme contrary position. Saying most false rape allegation statistics can be counted multiple ways and that the most conservative of these will result in an underreport of all rapes (as opposed to e.g. 'prosecutable' rapes) does not argue that women never lie and we must assume all accused men are criminals. You are arguing against a straw man. And in so doing you seem to be arguing against the notion of sharing true and (IMO) USEFUL data to do so.

"legal assumption leads to sentences, and personal assumption leads to vigilanteism"
Based on that argument, even if someone is obviously guilty as all get out, we, as people not officially selected to be the jurors, cannot comment on the case in a way that implies we are judging whether that is the case. Because, it will lead to 'vigilanteism'. Except it doesn't. 99% of the time, people commenting on e.g. OJ Simpson or Julian Assange will have no effect whatsoever on how those people are actually treated or whether justice is actually done.

So no. As a pure 'reality check', personal judgment is NOT analogous to legal judgment.

Will Shetterly said...

Becca, it's good to avoid straw men, so:

1. Are you saying no one has said that Assange is guilty of rape?

2. What % of men say specific women are probably lying about rape?

3. What % of women say specific men are probably guilty of rape?

4. The "data" I've been selling is that women are telling the truth at least 98% of the time. (See my 1/50 analogy.) If you think this makes me a promoter of useless information, fine.

5. I've done a lot of reading about lynching and vigilanteism. Personal judgments matter. At the very least, falsely accused people suffer from character assassination, which may seem like a minor thing to you, but which can translate to losing friends, lovers, and jobs, getting anonymous death threats, getting property vandalized, etc.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Will, on the Yahoo link, did you bother to count up the guilty/not-guilty votes in the thread? On a quick count that's probably slightly wrong, I get 3-8, plus one abstention. And for every, "I believe the women" statement in the Assange case, I really can find you two of these: Note the qualitative differences in the statements.

But now, I'm going to tell you it really is time to disengage. Why? You're being counterproductive. The way to protect the innocent accused is to delegitimize any and all kinds of vigilantism, not to argue for a silence that perpetuates abuse of the victims based on bogus statistics (including those death threats, etc. that you mention). The need for this kind of debunking article is demonstrated in the studies and documented in the comments. Arguing about that further doesn't get you any closer to your goals, which I happen to share.

Will Shetterly said...

Stephanie, I only noted the yahoo thingie to point out that these people exist. In the Assange case, given it's irregularities, I suspect you could find more "they're lying" than "he's guilty," which is why it's not a good test case for your general principle, even if it contributed to your decision to make this post. But I'd love to see an examination of the evidence for, say, the last ten years regarding rape charges.

And to be clear, I'm not arguing for silence. I'm arguing for more research, and a closer look at the implications of the evidence, and a willingness to simultaneously avoid judgment while being willing to discuss and consider all the evidence. I find the people who want to pretend Miss A has no political past as annoying as the people who want to assume she's guilty because of her politics.

Well, done now. On to the next topic!

Stephanie Zvan said...

For those who care to see it, the post I was talking about in an earlier comment: I was wrong that it contained the higher stats itself. For the most part, it incorporated them by reference to this post:

Bonus posts suggesting that the only reason a guy would agree with me is because I'm sleeping with him: but that my relationship to him is subservient nonetheless:

Archivist said...

This article is incredibly deceptive. By sugguesting that "only" 2.1 to 10 percent of all rape claims were "false," you suggest that the remainder were actual rapes.

I am certain you know very well that only a very small percent of the remainder can be definitively called "actual rapes."

So if we only talk about those claims for which we have definitive proof about the outcome -- false or actual rape -- false claims are a very signficant percentage of that.

I am certain you know this. I am troubled as to why you don't point it out.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Archivist, did you read this post? There's a detailed discussion of what is and isn't included in the numbers.

And the point of all of this analysis is to make the rate of false report of rape reasonably comparable to the false report rate for any other crime--without the distortions added by the perception that women just lie about these things. Given that we don't look at any other crime the way you want us to look at rape, your suggestion adds what?

The Almighty Chihuahua said...

Nice to see you begin to address this crime.But in all honesty: the centerpiece of your argument is 'proving' that women lie--might as well go hunt the holy grail now...

Then there is always that data problem about who is collecting it. Hmmm: citing women with feminist agenda's and ideological biases, interpreting truth, based on gate keeping and conflation...hmmm.

Oh, that and police state collusion--women's groups, the cops, and other robbers get paid to minimize the official story in the collection of data.

I will read your full post later, and maybe even reply in one of my own.

Meantime, since reporting rape is on your agenda, have you read up on the rape of men in the Congo? 22% of men reported being raped--some of them for years at a stretch as prisoners of war.And we KNOW how hard it is to get men to report.

The Almighty Chihuahua said...

Stephanie @ "However, citations can be found for rates as low as 1.5% and as high as 90%. In other words, huh? How do we deal with a range that big?"
Big IS scary, isn’t it? Well, like any target, Steph, you aim for the center. Which would be 44.25% of the time. Big Duh there, especially for egalitarians--and even they are infected these days with rape hysteria, and 'men are way scarier, 'because patriarchy is everywhere (except there at home when mommy dearest is opening the bathroom door just as little Rebbeca begins to masturbate...) divisiveness, ala radfems.
Even the feeble and feminist pandering FBI knows that--their own lackadaisical reports state that some 40% of reports are ‘unsubstantiated’. And because gander(ooops…I meant gender…) feminists are so particular(big huge fucking laugh there based on their sloppy research, and their questionable methods, ala the recent Schapiro study, or Janet Swim's laughable treatise on sexism)about words , which definition do you choose to describe "false"? I choose the Sage Dictionary, and definition #9--"not in accordance with the fact, or the reality, or the actuality". But definitions 1-8 certainly are germane, and when false is used as an adverb, it takes on whole new meanings of “ man them white bitches just don’t have any sense of what it is that could have and likely should have been their reality( instead of men and women in the Congo)—if it weren’t for FBI definitions based in privileged, ‘normative’ status quo pandering, and sexual totems of white female privilege.”
Seems simple enough, right-a definition is a definition, right? I mean, they still don't have a definition of specifically female initiated rape--like thermometers inserted into little boys butts by medical mommies, or Vagina Monologues style rape of thirteen year olds by lesbians ( even though everyone else in the child abuse industry seems to be aware of such profiles), or condom breaking skanks looking for 18 year paychecks, etc.--so who cares what the cowardly FBI says--unless you specifically have foregone the truth of the issue in favor of pandering to the police state: they are a historic collaborator not only with child prostitution and pornography, prison rape, drug running, gun running, and prostitute-using and gay bashing, but now, you, their stats, and just one more FBI pander to popular smokescreens and political trends.
But here are some stats for you--hope they don't shut your server down, or choke your 'spam filter' because they contain non-gender feminist data about false rape reporting that I remember, no matter how hard rape positive gender fems tried to negate them:
“About Half of Rape Allegations are False, Research Shows”
False allegations of rape are believed to be more common than many persons realize. These are the findings of four research studies:
A review of 556 rape accusations filed against Air Force personnel found that 27% of women later recanted. Then 25 criteria were developed based on the profile of those women, and then submitted to three independent reviewers to review the remaining cases. If all three reviewers deemed the allegation was false, it was categorized as false. As a result, 60% of all allegations were found to be false.1 Of those women who later recanted, many didn't admit the allegation was false until just before taking a polygraph test. Others admitted it was false only after having failed a polygraph test.2
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.3

The Almighty Chihuahua said...

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.4 Among the false charges, 53% of the women admitted they filed the false claim as an alibi.5
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.6 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.
And according to former Colorado prosecutor Craig Silverman, “For 16 years, I was a kick-ass prosecutor who made most of my reputation vigorously prosecuting rapists. ... I was amazed to see all the false rape allegations that were made to the Denver Police Department. ... A command officer in the Denver Police sex assaults unit recently told me he placed the false rape numbers at approximately 45%.”7
According to the FBI, about 95,000 forcible rapes were reported in 2004.8 Based on the statements and studies cited above, some 47,000 American men are falsely accused of rape each year. These men are disproportionately African-American.9
Some of these men are wrongly convicted, sentenced, and imprisoned. Even if there is no conviction, a false allegation of rape can “emotionally, socially, and economically destroy a person.”101 McDowell CP. False allegations. Forensic Science Digest, Vol. 11, No. 4, December 1985
2 Ibid.
3 Kanin EJ. An alarming national trend: False rape allegations. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1994
4 Ibid., p. 2, Kanin reports that in the city studied, "for a declaration of false charge to be made, the complainant must admit that no rape had occurred. ... The police department will not declare a rape charge as false when the complainant, for whatever reason, fails to pursue the charge or cooperate on the case, regardless how much doubt the police may have regarding the validity of the charge. In short, these cases are declared false only because the complainant admitted they are false. ... Thus, the rape complainants referred to in this paper are for completed forcible rapes only. The foregoing leaves us with a certain confidence that cases declared false by this police agency are indeed a reasonable -- if not a minimal -- reflection of false rape allegations made to this agency, especially when one considers that a finding of false allegation is totally dependent upon the recantation of the rape charge."
5 Ibid., Addenda.
6 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
8 Federal Bureau of Investigation. Forcible rape. February 17, 2006.
9 Innocence Project: Facts on post-conviction DNA exonerations.
10 Angelucci M, Sacks G. Research shows false allegations of rape common. Los Angeles Daily Journal, Sept. 15, 2004.

The Almighty Chihuahua said...

Gee, Steph, I was checking back to see if my comment full of statistics about false rape accusations mad it here yet--is it still stuck in cue, or did the feminist censors devour it?

Stephanie Zvan said...

That would be me forgetting how I had the moderation set. Sorry about that.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Ignoring the obsessive bits, it's worth noting that Kanin's descriptions of his methodology are so nonexistent that his experiments can't be duplicated as described.