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Promoting False Allegations of Rape
August 5, 2003
by Carey Roberts

False allegations of rape are far more common than most people imagine.

Take Crossfire co-host Tucker Carlson. He was accused of raping a woman whom he had never met in a city he had never visited.

Or William Hetherington, whose wife accused him of spousal rape during a bitter child custody dispute. Hetherington was imprisoned in 1985, and to this day is still awaiting justice.

Or the U Mass student who cut her own face and fabricated a story of attempted rape because she wanted the university to give higher priority to protecting women.

It's too early to be making final pronouncements on the Kobe Bryant case. But you have to wonder when Bryant's alleged victim was reported to be "bragging" about Bryant's anatomy at a party two weeks after the escapade.

Are false allegations of rape isolated incidents in our society?

Eugene Kanin is a professor of sociology at Purdue University. Kanin tracked all allegations of rapes reported to the police over a 9-year period in one Midwestern town. In 41% of the cases, the woman later admitted that the rape allegation was false.

DNA evidence reveals a somewhat lower figure. 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." This means that one in four rape allegations are simply bogus.

A man convicted of rape often spends 10 years of his life behind bars.

But what happens to a woman who makes a false allegation of rape?

Usually, nothing.

In the case of Tucker Carlson, he did not prosecute his accuser because he did not want his name further linked with the stigmatizing word, "rape."

The U Mass case is even more revealing. When the truth finally came out, David Angier, the local assistant district attorney, dismissed the deception: "If anyone is prosecuted for filing a false report, then victims of real attacks will be less likely to report them."

Read Mr. Angier's remark a second time.

Because it reveals an underlying belief that better that 10 men be sent to prison on false accusations of rape, than one true victim of rape decide to drop the charges.

Mr. Angier's remark echoes a chilling statement made by Catherine Comins of nearby Vassar College, who made this remark in Time magazine: "Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience."

In other words, men can be freely accused of crimes they did not commit. And a man can be packed off to prison not because he assaulted a woman, but because he can "gain from the experience."

This is reminiscent of the tactic that Stalin used to purge the kulaks, the landowners who were driven from their farms not because of any particular wrong they had committed, but because they were members of a politically incorrect class.

A generation ago, women who had been truly raped often did not press charges because of the embarrassment, shame, and fear that their complaint would be ridiculed. Thankfully, those days are past.

Now, men who have been falsely accused of rape do not seek redress for the same reasons: embarrassment, shame, and fear that their complaint will be laughed off.

Those days are still very much with us.

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