Victims of False Accusations of Rape Need to Be Heard, Too
False accusations ruin lives and bring indescribable heartache. We hear a lot about rape and sexual assault victims, but rarely do we hear of the injustices and pain endured by those falsely accused of such crimes, the silent sufferers of cruelty and malice.
The confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh have brought into focus a great divide in this country between those who choose to believe any allegation a woman makes and those who value presumption of innocence when a man is accused of rape. Many of us aren’t willing to discard due process simply because feminists demand it — we have experienced firsthand the devastation that follows in the wake of false accusations, particularly regarding rape, sexual assault, and molestation.
After America was subjected to the insanity surrounding the Kavanaugh hearings, I posted on Twitter a call to hear the stories of the falsely accused, voices that are rarely heard or respected. You can scan the many responses I received in the thread to that tweet.
These aren’t cases in which the accuser was credible but the allegations simply could not be proved, something that happens in our courtrooms across the country, to the frustration of accusers who know they are telling the truth but the perpetrator walks free. Justice is sometimes elusive despite our best efforts. The stories I’m hearing are about lies told to exert control — they’re about evil.
As we have seen, there are cases when a woman is automatically believed simply because she is a woman, despite having zero corroborating evidence. One such account in the news is that of Gregory Counts and VanDyke Perry, who were sentenced to decades in jail on rape and other charges despite the investigators having no physical evidence.
This lack of physical evidence sometimes happens in trials like these, but there must be some kind of supporting evidence. They didn’t have any. The prosecution’s case mostly relied on the woman’s testimony, which, as with Christine Blasey Ford’s against Kavanaugh, was full of inconsistencies.
Several years ago, my husband was a juror in a rape trial held in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. When the jury started deliberating, only two jurors found him not guilty — my husband and another man. The other jurors were incensed and pressured them to change their verdict. My husband refused, saying the prosecutor simply had not proved her case and relied on the woman’s incoherent testimony. He was horrified when most of the other jurors said, “That’s true, but the risk is too high — we simply can’t let a potential rapist back on the streets.”
The angry jurors pummeled them for hours to change their minds, and finally the man who had stood with my husband succumbed and agreed to cast a guilty verdict. All eyes turned on my husband. He was the one holdout. The pressure was intense, but he refused to budge. He went through the case with them, pointing out holes in testimony, inconsistencies in the timeline, and the overall lack of evidence.
In light of little evidence, my husband had to presume innocence and vote not guilty. He understood that, as frustrating as it might be, it is better to let a guilty man go free than put an innocent man behind bars and ruin his life forever.
We’ve heard such cases shrugged off by the media as they claim that only 2 percent of rape allegations are false, but Brent Turvey, an expert in criminal law, disagrees. In his 2017 book on the topic, he cited research, police reports, and studies to show that the number is much higher. One study even had false “sexual assault” allegations as high as 40 percent. Turvey wrote that in the 1990s, the FBI registered false accusations of “rape or attempted rape” at 8 percent. As cited in the Washington Examiner,
“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.”
By downplaying the number of false accusations, the media allow victims of this heinous act to be ignored and silenced, their reputations ruined with no recourse to find redemption. The result is depression, anger, disrupted relationships, and even suicide.
One man who was falsely accused of rape told me he felt hopeless after being grilled by the police: “I left the station in emotional shambles. In the following days my depression sunk to depths as far as considering taking my own life. This was something I was completely innocent of, yet my life was about to be ruined.”
Another man said he felt shut down, defenseless before a false accusation of rape: “Aside from the right to make a statement, I was denied all of my legal rights—my employer lied about it, broke laws, and threw me out the door. Feminists claim employers don't take allegations seriously. They're lying. I attempted suicide and spent a week hospitalized.”
Other men, several in the military, have described the anguish of facing false sexual assault and rape charges — police showing up at their workplace, employers treating them as if they were guilty, onlookers believing the accusation and treating them as an outcast despite being found innocent.
A typical place in which false accusations occur, besides the workplace, is the home, especially when separated or divorced parents are fighting for custody rights. While there are many instances of actual abuse that are never proven — to the frustration of mothers or fathers who have to continue to send their children into a threatening situation — family law is rife with false allegations.
One father who contacted me shared a horrifying account that haunts his family to this day. The mother of his son accused him of sexually molesting the 4-year-old boy. She coached the child to say things the father couldn’t bear to repeat even after all this time. The allegations were found to be false, fabricated by a mother bent on manipulation and control.
“I am the ‘survivor’ (if you can call it that) of horrible, malicious, and ‘conveniently timed’ accusations of sexual assault,” he told me. “Those accusations and the storm they wrought were the most painful and traumatic events of my life, and the lives of my family. It changed us forever, and will haunt us in ways I’m sure we will never be able to fully see or understand for the rest of our lives.”
The circus of the last few weeks brought up painful memories for him: “Watching what is happening to Brett Kavanaugh and his family has been traumatic, especially for me, and has brought so many old feelings and pain to the surface. And watching those carry it out, and the millions of people and hundreds of media personalities simply stand by and cheer it on, is so deeply hurtful I cannot adequately find the words to explain.”
Listening to people claim that women just need to be believed is not just silly, it’s dangerous. Ask the Duke Lacrosse team. Listening to people claim that women (or men for that matter) don’t lie about such things is such a lie in and of itself that should be patently obvious.
Listening to people claim that since this is not a court of law, and there is somehow a different standard that needs to be applied when it comes to allegations such as this is so enraging I could barely sit and listen to it without screaming at my TV or cell phone when reading it. No one who has ever been publicly accused of such things will ever believe that [sic]
Listening to people claim that Brett Kavanaugh’s anger was a sure sign of his guilt was galling. No person who has ever been falsely accused of sexual assault, especially so publicly, would be anything BUT enraged and indignant, and in particular, at those they believe are guilty of orchestrating it.
He said he didn’t know if Ford believes what she alleges or not:
How could I? But I saw that look in Brett’s eyes—I saw the way he looked at those Democratic Senators—and I felt every ounce of his rage just the same way I felt mine years ago. I recognized it because I have been there. I lived it. I saw the pain in his wife’s face as he testified. I have seen that too. I saw his mother weeping. I saw that too. He was telling the truth and it’s the very nature of his anger and indignation, the way he expressed it, and the way he directed it to those he knew were responsible that reveals it. It is EXACTLY the way one would respond to such false accusations. My heart aches for him, his family, his friends and colleagues who all know the truth.
All false accusations of criminality are wrong, but especially when they are made public. The painful effects are imprinted on the victim’s life as others have already made judgments about him. Many people speak of the bravery of Ford and how she will leave a legacy that will encourage all women to come forward with their accusations of abuse. Sadly, this isn’t her legacy. Her legacy is carved into the hearts of the Kavanaugh family — it’s a legacy of grief and unwarranted shame.
The greatest gift America can give the Kavanaugh family is to stop saying Ford is credible and to remove all shame by believing his innocence because he was never even remotely found guilty.
Ford’s allegations might be a case of simply not being able to prove something that actually happened, but given the orchestration, conflicting testimonies, contact with senators and the press instead of law enforcement, political game-playing, zero corroborating evidence, and emotional display that reeked of fakery and inauthenticity, it seems more like false accusation than failure to prove. This possibility should be further investigated to find out if she lied.
While we should have empathy for victims, that empathy does not stop with those who suffered rape and sexual assault. It should extend to the falsely accused, because to be forced to prove that you didn’t do such an evil thing is another kind of rape — it’s rape of the soul.
We want victims of rape to feel free to come forward, but we also need to hold those who knowingly bring false accusations to account. We can all learn wisdom from ancient religious writings on this subject. One such text is from Deuteronomy:
If a false witness testifies against someone, accusing him of a crime, both parties to the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD, before the priests and judges who are in office at that time. The judges shall investigate thoroughly and if the witness is proven to be a liar who has falsely accused his brother, you must do to him as he intended to do to his brother.
You must purge the evil from among you. Then the rest of the people will hear and be afraid, and they will never again do anything so evil among you. You must show no pity (Deuteronomy 19:16-21).