There are two widely promoted myths about rape: one is that it is a vastly under-reported crime; the other is that false rape allegations are extremely rare. While no one knows how many rapes are not reported, clearly some are not. Likewise it is very difficult to assess how many false allegations are made, because not all false allegations are reported by the mainstream media. Nevertheless, although pandemic is probably too strong a word, the problem is clearly global, as the following recent reports demonstrate.
If the name David Easter is not familiar even to UK readers, the jobbing actor is a fairly frequent face on our TV screens. In the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile circus, a woman – as usual unnamed – tried to jump on the gravy train by accusing him of raping her when she was a teenager SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO. Why anyone much less the police should take such allegations seriously remains to be seen. The fact they do is a tragedy – ask Rolf Harris. That being said, on the word of a deluded or grasping female and nothing else, the poor man was arrested, which naturally led to his suspension from his TV work. Luckily for Mr Easter he is not an A List celebrity as was Mr Harris, nor as infamous as Max Clifford, otherwise he might well have found other non-victims coming forward with tear-jerking tales about how he had ruined their lives, their relationships and even their make-up as they cried night after night for their lost innocence.
After the charges were dropped, his lawyer told one tabloid that this woman who had seen him numerous times on television since the rape didn’t occur decided to report it only to jump on the Jimmy Savile bandwagon. The usual response came from the police, namely that there was “not enough evidence to prosecute”, in other words no evidence at all.
On the other side of the world it was reported that a woman aged 56 had appeared in court where she pleaded guilty to making a false allegation of rape against her partner at the time. Another source gave her age as 58, and her name – Elizabeth Atkinson. She had in fact already pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing. The judge at New Zealand’s Hawera District Court gave her a (conditional) discharge. The false allegation was made in February.
Another report from Down Under reveals that a prison officer was demoted to prison inmate after being accused of “bashing and raping” his ex-girlfriend. When doubts surfaced over her claims, the woman was put under covert surveillance; it was probably only due to her over-egging the pudding with numerous other allegations against him and his family that resulted in an innocent man being saved from being branded a rapist for life.
A somewhat unusual false rape allegation was reported by the China Post. This was blamed for rioting in Mandalay, Myanmar after a Buddhist woman pointed the finger at two Moslem men, brothers. An official report says the woman showed no signs of rape or violence, and “After a detailed investigation she confessed that she accused the two men because she was paid” to do so by two other people who apparently had a personal dispute with the tea shop owners.
It would be difficult to imagine a more wicked act, and all three – if convicted – should be punished to the full extent of the law.
An alleged victim who suffers no apparent injuries either external or internal should always be treated with extreme suspicion unless there is good reason to believe her story, for example if she has been drugged.
There are ways if not to stop then to greatly reduce the number of false rape allegations worldwide. One is to stop treating rape as though it is worse than murder; this means that a woman who accuses a man of rape or of any sexual offence should not be “protected” with anonymity. In the recent high profile UK cases, the police have deliberately leaked the names of the accused to the media. This has resulted in a deluge of false allegations. In spite of the convictions of Rolf Harris and Max Clifford on all counts, no honest person and certainly no jurist of reason could have anything but serious reservations about the quality of the evidence on which they were convicted.
There should be no irresponsible behaviour by the police and no sensationalist report about any rape trial nor indeed any other trial. During the trial itself, fair and accurate reporting is a must. After the trial, if convicted, then the defendant can be branded a rapist or whatever, but there is absolutely no reason for his accuser to remain anonymous, whether he is convicted or not.
The other way to reduce the number of false allegations is to prosecute false accusers to the full extent of the law. This does not mean that an alleged victim should be prosecuted simply because the man she points the finger at is acquitted; the law doesn’t work like that. Let’s take a hypothetical example, you have you pocket picked, and apprehend the man you believe has stolen your wallet. The police arrive, and although when he is searched your wallet is not found, a CRO check reveals he is a known pickpocket. Although the man protests his innocence, the police believe he has passed your wallet to an accomplice. He is arrested, charged and appears in court.
You testify against him, but he is found not guilty. Does that mean you accused him falsely? Not at all. Similarly with rape. There is clearly a difference between a rapist who “gets off” on a technicality and an innocent man. There are also circumstances under which a woman may genuinely believe she has been raped but has not been, especially if she has been using substances she shouldn’t. But gratuitously false rape allegations like that effected by Rhiannon Brooker should and must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Here is a very interesting page that gives an insight both into the true extent of false allegations of sexual assault and some of the reasons for them.
This short video by Angry Harry gives an insight into the way rape statistics are manipulated by vested interests, and some of the reasons false rape allegations are made.
[The above article was published originally on August 1, 2014. One very minor correction has been made to the text].
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