What Kind of Person Makes False Rape Accusations? by S. Newman
False rape accusations loom large in the cultural imagination. We don’t forget the big ones:
The widely-read 2014 Rolling Stone article, later retracted, about a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia; the 2006 accusations against innocent members of the Duke University lacrosse team.
These cases are readily cited by defense attorneys and Republican lawmakers and anyone else who wants a reason to discuss the dangers of false allegations. What if a woman has consensual sex, and then regrets it the next day?
What if a woman gets dumped by her boyfriend and decides to accuse him of rape as revenge?
What if she’s just doing it for attention?
Are false accusations reaching epidemic levels in today’s hard-drinking hookup culture, where the lines of consent have been blurred? Critics argue that reports of rape should be treated with more caution, since men’s lives are so often ruined by women’s malicious lies.
But my research—including academic studies, journalistic accounts, and cases recorded in the US National Registry of Exonerations—suggests that every part of this narrative is wrong.
What’s more, it’s wrong in ways that help real rapists escape justice, while perversely making it more likely that we will miss the signs of false reports.
Innocent men rarely face rape charges
Let’s start with the idea that false rape accusations ruin lives, and are therefore a universal risk to men.
Generally, feminists dismiss this idea by arguing that false accusations are rare—only between 2% and 10% of all reports are estimated to be false. What’s equally important to know, however, is that false rape accusations almost never have serious consequences.
This may be hard to believe, especially considering that rape is a felony, punishable with years of prison. However—to start with this worst-case scenario—it’s exceedingly rare for a false rape allegation to end in prison time.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, since records began in 1989, in the US there are only 52 cases where men convicted of sexual assault were exonerated because it turned out they were falsely accused.
By way of comparison, in the same period, there are 790 cases in which people were exonerated for murder.
…Portrait of a false accuser
Some false accusers do press charges, however, and this brings us to an unpalatable point. Because real rape victims are often mistaken for false accusers, it can be uncomfortable to insinuate anything negative about either group.
But these two groups are not at all alike. In fact, rape victims aren’t even a group; they have no unifying traits.
They can be young or old, black or white, men or women, gay or straight, rich or poor—anyone at all. Even a 65-year-old man can be a victim of rape.
When one looks at a series of fabricated sexual assaults, on the other hand, patterns immediately begin to emerge. The most striking of these is that, almost invariably, adult false accusers who persist in pursuing charges have a previous history of bizarre fabrications or criminal fraud. Indeed, they’re often criminals whose family and friends are also criminals; broken people trapped in chaotic lives.
Read the rest of that here
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