False Accusations of Sexual Assault

The MeToo Movement and the recent hearing testimonies of Dr. Christine Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh have people wondering what percentage of sexual assault accusations are false.  

The following is from “False reports of sexual assault not as rare as claimed, studies show” by Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, October 7, 2018 https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/oct/7/false-sex-assault-reports-not-rare-reported-studie/

Sexual Assault

Brent E. Turvey, a criminologist, wrote a 2017 book that dispels the idea that false accusations of sexual assault are relatively rare. His research, and that of two co-authors, cited statistical studies and police crime reports. One academic study showed that as many as 40 percent of sexual assault charges are false. Mr. Turvey wrote that the FBI in the 1990s pegged the falsity rate at 8 percent for rape or attempted rape complaints.

“There is no shortage of politicians, victims’ advocates and news articles claiming that the nationwide false report for rape and sexual assault is almost nonexistent, presenting a figure of around 2 percent,” writes Mr. Turvey, who directs the Forensic Criminology Institute. “This figure is not only inaccurate, but also it has no basis in reality. Reporting it publicly as a valid frequency rate with any empirical basis is either scientifically negligent or fraudulent.”

“You see where they are going with this,” said Elaine Donnelly, the director of the Center for Military Readiness.   “Any man who doubts Ford is hostile to women experiencing abuse, who make accusations truthfully 90 to 98 percent of the time. This is why hard data from the Pentagon, which shows rates of false accusations averaging 18 percent in annual reports since 2009, is important.”  Women’s advocates say that an unfounded case doesn’t necessarily mean the accuser was lying.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center puts the false report rate at 2 percent to 10 percent.  “Research shows that rates of false reporting are frequently inflated, in part because of inconsistent definitions and protocols, or a weak understanding of sexual assault,” the Center said.

Mr. Turvey’s 2017 book, “False Allegations: Investigative and Forensic Issues in Fraudulent Reports of Crime,” looked at a range of bogus reporting, including on rape and sexual assault. He examined existing studies and police statistics.

“False reports happen, they are recurrent and there are laws in place to deal with them when they do,” he wrote. “They are, for lack of a better word, common.”

Mr. Turvey quotes a study by researcher Edward Greer, past president of the Association American Law Schools. He traced the one and only source for the “2 percent” assertion to a 1975 book, “Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape,” which quoted statistics from New York City, not from across the nation.

Mr. Turvey cites 10 studies that debunk the 2 percent assertion in the U.S. and abroad.

“The power of any lie is equal only to our desire to believe it,” Mr. Turvey wrote. “Specifically, our need and eagerness to believe it. This is the problem with belief — which is accepting something as true or correct without proof.”

If you have been falsely accused of committing a sex crime, you need an experienced defense attorney to represent you.  Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades of experience representing people in these situations. Please call him today for a free consultation.

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