Here’s a link to an interesting piece in Slate concerning the percentage of rape allegations that are false.  Emily Bazelon & Rachel Larimore, How Often Do Women Falsely Cry Rape?, Slate, Oct. 1, 2009.  The authers suggest that while various empirical studies have arrived at wildly divergent figures, the answer is probably 8 to 10%.  They include a long quotation from Steve Cullen, identified as “an Army attorney who’s worked extensively as a prosecutor.”

27 Responses to “Interesting Slate piece on the percentage of rape allegations that are false”

  1. commentary says:

    Tonight’s PROTIP: only have sex with people you are quite certain want to have sex with you.

  2. JWS says:

    Uh, the female Sheriff’s deputies that I knew told me they thought the false reporting rate was more like 60% – 70%.

  3. Anonymous says:

    it’s an unknowable number. And I doubt it is 60-70 percent.

  4. RY says:

    Can there ever really be an accurate number? If you go by whether “victim” truly believes she was raped, then 2% false reporting may be correct. Of course, the numbers will differ if we’re pre or post SARC involvement. If you go by what percentage could be proven BYRD, then it may seem like 90% are false. Regrettably, it’s a bit like watching professional basketball without replay. When the ball goes out of bounds, both sides claim it went off the other team. Unfortunately, there’s rarely anyone there to be objective and there’s no replay to say definitively.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Even the number or % of “rapes that go unreported” cannot be truly measured, as they all presume that they are, in fact, true. Why would someone lie about an unreported rape victimization? Who knows…but it would be silly to assume that they are as accurate as the reported figures.

    Interesting article. The best way to determine the reasons is to simply find out on a case by case basis why the reporting was fabricated and keep those in mind during future investigations.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I also wonder if the number is the same in the military as in the civilian world, given the considerable “secondary gain” which can accrue to the alleged victim in the military (access to emergency contraception, convalescent leave, shore duty, etc…). I’d also be curious as to what, if any, role “don’t ask/don’t tell” plays in false allegations of same sex assault, given the fact of mandatory processing for same sex consensual contact.

  7. Bridget says:

    My anecdotal sense of the issue, reflected in my practice,and reports from others, is that women are less likely to be believed when they describe an encounter as not consensual. As we all know, these accusations usually involve ETOH. The charges, whether re men or women are usually that the alleged victim was incapacitated and unable to resist. Much easier to get any finder of fact to be skeptical about a female raising the complaint that male. I guess that if a man comes forward a says he was assaulted, there is a mentality that a man would not lie about this because guys don’t want to admit….

    Men accused of assaulting men tend to get severe sentences at least in my experience and knowledge. BTW, I had one female on female accusation years ago, and got it booted after the 32.

    Also, with men it seems more likely to see charges of indecent assault with minor contact like a hand placed on another man’s knee. If you want to get the women in your life to screech, try to see how many times they have heard of a guy being criminally charged for making a pass {absent, say frat).

    Number of false accusations? I don’t have any idea. Agree not even close to 60%. I have to say there is nothing sadder than seeing a young female who was semi-unconscious from alcohol and had sex imposed upon her. Oh, yeah, sadder is some young guy who was equally young, drunk and stupid who is now a felon and a registered sex offender.

  8. Anon says:

    Even when Cossio is trying to be good he is still way out there….

    Cossio, when you become an attorney, and are defending your client accused of something like this try making your argument to the jury! –At least after your client is convicted he will get a new trial based on IAC!

    (Good luck finding any expert to agree with your evolutionary theories)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Let me make sure I am clear. I should go to websites named, I’m sure innocently enough,, and trust their facts?

    Right. Anyone who talks about victimhood of females who allege rape being a mental disorder carried by evolution is just spewing stuff to try and shock folks or gives the same critical thought to this issue that he does when selecting his underwear for the day.

    Anon 1824 “when” he becomes an attorney? I think there’s a more appropriate preposition you could have used.

  10. Bridget says:

    Anon 2003-I am painfully aware of the thoroughly discredited Air Force “report” referenced by Cossio. I must admit that the best thing about it is that it makes a pretty good checklist for crossing an alleged (female) victim.

  11. Anon says:

    I agree with the constructive criticism….But in my defense, I would never click-on or go to link provided by Cossio because I’m sure it will give me a virus.

  12. Anonymous says:

    50% or more of rape accusations are probably false.

  13. Anonymous says:

    100% of that last comment is 80% ridiculous.

  14. Comrade Cossio says:

    “Let me make sure I am clear. I should go to websites named, I’m sure innocently enough,, and trust their facts?”

    The website cites an OSI report, I’m sure if you look you can find more cites with the same reference….I remember a law article done on it, I read it last week as a matter of fact….

    I got it, it was on a story “Why Women Lie About Rape” here is the study done by the Air Force:

    “The False Rape Allegation in the Military Community (1983)

    Now dummy, I know it was 1983 (a year after I was born) but before you chide me on the year, ask yourself if twenty six later it is easier or harder for a woman to make an allegation of rape and if Women today are more noble and chaste than they were 25 years ago.

    Your fight is not with me, its with the facts. Which means you loose.

    You have no argument, so you make Ad Hom. Attacks on me because your brain can’t fathom that there are a number of studies which points to roughly half of cases being bogus, including FBI reports.

    Then, while you are at it, as far as evolution goes, anthropologist have concluded that many “behaviors”, even religious worship, is the result of human evolution.

    The ability to lie, in all animals, to use deceit and subterfuge, is probably one of the most ancient forms of evolution.

    Back to lying, and more importantly making false claims, this behavior is the result of a defense mechanism, the forms of which can be seen in some animals, to include Birds. For example some birds will feign injury in order to draw a predator away from their nest, one of which is actually in Texas, another animal notorious for —

    You know what?

    I’m not going to explain the concept further to you.

    You are a Monkey, and I’m wasting my time teaching a Monkey how to reason like a Human.

    When you learn to walk upright, and actually make arguments like a real person, instead of making crude remarks “if” I will be a lawyer, then maybe you will be able to understand evolutionary behavior.

  15. Comrade Cossio says:

    Admin, I would request that my last comment be allowed to stand in the light of Anon’s defamation towards my person, and attack on facts and science.

  16. Anon says:

    Had this conversation recently with our SARC after mandatory annual SAPR training — one T/F slide stated only 4% false rape (implying 96% true). My experience is there’s a wide spectrum of encounters, often w/ impaired capacities. I’m still not sold the new Art 120 is any improvement on separating the foolish from the criminal.

  17. Comrade Cossio says:

    To be honest, we really do not have any clue what the numbers can be, but what we can be sure is that it happens – a lot.

    Let us not forget that Prosecutors, TC’s and SJA’s that pile phoney rape charges.

    Yes, you heard be. Take one individual I met in my travsles.

    A1C Smiley, Charged with drugs and rape.

    First, the “rape” charge. Smiley and a female engaged in sexual intercourse while intoxicated. The woman went to the doctor a few days later. The doctor asked if she recently had sex, the woman says she couldn’t remember –

    Bam, OSI comes in and tells the woman that if she couldn’t remember than she was raped, she was raped (I’ve seen multiple cases in CCA and CAAF with similiar facts).

    I read the Article 32 transcripts, and she testified that she was told by OSI that she was raped.

    Smilely wasn’t charged, not until some months later when facing drug charges, all of a sudden the Shysters in the Legal Office clicked their heels and decided that unrelated drug charges = Rape Conviction.

    Not really, the “rape” charges were used to intimidiate Smiley into a PTA.

    The point is; let’s not under score the role of the TC or Agent in these cases either.

  18. Comrade Cossio says:

    For you spelling nazi’s “intimidiate” and “travels”, etc are typos

  19. Southern Defense Counsel says:

    This is an interesting study, and arrives right around where the experts generally agree that false accusations lie. I do believe that it is troubling that false accusers are (almost) never prosecuted. The reality is that rape is one of those charges that will always pit two people against each other. Add alcohol into the mix, and no one, even the participants, may ever know the truth.

    I don’t believe the 60-70% of allegations are false stat, mostly because to believe that would mean that about 15%-20% of all women have lied about sexual assault (stats show that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime). Honestly, I just don’t think that women are that scary. :) I think it’s more likely that 2% of women might lie about something like this (.08 x .25), although this number also seems high when I write it down.

    The reality is that false reports do exist. This means that defense attorneys and prosecutors need to be careful. But rape also happens, and date rape also happens, and they are (and should be) crimes. The more difficult to go through a trial as a victim, the less likely they are to report it, which means that our society is less safe. No really easy answers here, but again, not an easy subject.

  20. Anonymous says:

    In a prior life, I was an attorney in the Violent Felony Bureau of a relatively large Public Defenders office. I “tracked” rape cases for a year coming out of the Grand Jury. Admittedly it was a non-scientific basis and my criteria were simply these:

    1) No physical/medical corroboraton – Defendant did not testify at the Grand Jury – the GJ “no billed” 50% of them;

    2) No physical/medical corroboration – Defendant DID testify at the GJ – GJ “no billed” 85% of them;

    3) Physical / medical corroboration [injuries / sexual activity] – Defendant did NOT testify – 98% indicted for some felony level sexual assault;

    4) Physical / medical corroboration [injuries/sexual activity] – Defendant DID testify – 75% indicted for some felony level sexual assault.

    Now, I realize that (a) the level of proof [“reasonable cause to believe”] does not equate to the “truth” of what really happened; and (b) other factors [lack of preparation by DA’s; alibi’s, etc.] could cause a GJ to “no bill” a rape case.

    We also excluded cases where the dude was caught in the act or confessed. Our purpose wasn’t to conduct a scientific study, but for training young attorneys in evaluating how to defend these cases, e.g., if there was no “corroboration,” you almost always want the Defendant to testify as to his version of events.

    But for whimpish Convening Authorities, it’s hard to beat the Article 32, system in the military for flushing out those cases where the evidence simply is not there.

    And, as most competent forensic medical people will testify, if it’s truly a non-consensual sexual assault, there’s corroborative evidence if you look hard enough.

  21. Southern Defense Counsel says:


    Extremely helpful information, and I believe every word of it. Many DCs will say “D will testify over my dead body.” The reality is, in most cases your guy better tell what happened, because despite what any judge says about the accused’s silence, every juror will be wondering, “Well, what did the other sexual partner say? And why can’t we hear his side? It’s even worse in the civilian sector, but anyone who thinks CM members don’t hold an accused’s silence against him or her is smoking something.

  22. Phil Cave says:

    And you should not generally be afraid of having women members.

  23. Comrade Cossio says:

    There is an advantage of having Women members, especially those who look down on promiscuous and drunk victim.

    That is a very good information Donald George Rehkopf, from New York :)

    I’m curious on how you would rate a Public Defender in State v. Military Defense Counsel.

  24. Anonymous says:

    So Cossio’s outing anons now, that’s fantastic. His contributions just get better and better.

  25. Phil Cave says:

    Assuming Cossio is correct, would it not have been the Anon’s “disclosure” that might have lead him to that. And only assuming Cossio’s correct.

  26. Comrade Cossio says:

    Ahhh, don’t be scarded Anon 2258, your secret is safe with me:) Phil is correct, that information can be garnered from the tidbit of info, yet perhaps I am wrong?

    Could be, my greatest triumph would be unmasking the Admiral – yet I feel like the Joker in the last Act of the Dark Knight….We should keep things a mystery, that’s part of the fun.

    And outing Anons would result in less quality contributions, but it would decrease the snark from those on Post (many of the snarky Anons come from a certain branch of service ryming with BlArmy).

    I can locate IP’s, but that only gives a general direction. Unless I remote into a computer, which, because of XP upgrades, makes it impossible :(.

    Anyways, maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong.

    I am now going into PD Appeal blogs, there are some State PD’s that write on these blogs using their whole name, critical of their Supervisors (Im in C[r]ook County).

    I am interested in starting out as a State PD myself, especially with the garbage in these County Court rooms.

  27. Anon says:

    Comparing State Public Defenders and military defense counsel is pretty much “apples and oranges.” If you have a “large” PD office [meaning 50+ lawyers], you are probably going to spend @ 5 years in the “trenches” and try 30+ cases to a jury BEFORE you get to Non-violent felonies, and then another year or 2 before you get to violent felonies, e.g., homicides, rapes, kidnappings, and combinations thereof. Plus, there are co-workers to help train and assist you.

    Most military defense counsel are woefully lacking in experience, even though they may be intelligent lawyers. The Army’s system of TDS, Senior DC and Regional DC, works well in most situations and has the institutional back-up necessary. The weak point is of course, that those assigned as beginning defense counsel have little experience vis-a-vis the cases they get detailed to.

    The military does a very good job of protecting against case-load excesses, whereas that is the bane of virtually all State Public Defenders’ Offices nationwide [the federal public defenders are in a class by themselves with good institutional controls]

    It is not unusual for a State public defender to have 100 pending violent felonies at any given time with 25-30 of those in pretrial confinement and handle 250 cases per year.

    Been there, done that, as well as 2 tours as a military DC.