Yesterday, this article from Cathy Young appeared on Slate.com. It’s an interesting read and well-worth the five minutes or so it takes to read it. Her final paragraph is particularly well stated:

Our focus on getting justice for women who are sexually assaulted is necessary and right. We are still far from the day when every woman who makes a rape accusation gets a proper police investigation and a fair hearing. But seeking justice for female victims should make us more sensitive, not less, to justice for unfairly accused men. In practical terms, that means finding ways to show support for victims of sexual violence without equating accusation and guilt, and recognizing that the wrongly accused are real victims too. It means not assuming that only a conviction is a fair outcome for an alleged sex crime. It means, finally, rejecting laws and policies rooted in the assumption that wrongful accusations are so vanishingly rare they needn’t be a cause for concern. To put it simply, we need to stop presuming guilt.

23 Responses to “Slate Article on False Accusations of Rape”

  1. Thewritesofweiss says:

    But that’s not what The Invisible War said!

  2. President Camacho says:

    Clearly this author didn’t pay attention in SHARP class. I will alert the SHARP police and ensure she is tracked down and educated.  Good article.

  3. k fischer says:

    In the last Response Panel, I recall hearing COL (R) Holly Cook asking questions that had the same tone as this article.

  4. RKincaid3 (RK3PO) says:

    I think I am about to cry…sniffle…someone besides the readers of this blog actually gets it—JUSTICE IS NOT ABOUT THE RESULT!!!
     
    And it is a major publication that covers political matters (and mostly from the perspective of those on the left pushing the myth of “rape culture”–where the message might actually be heard and carry some weight!
     
    HALLELUJAH!

  5. Tami (a/k/a Princess Leia) says:

    If only 2% of rape allegations are deliberately false, how does that jive with the 80% of rape cases I defended where the complainant lied about being raped?  Great article!  False allegations of rape do an injustice to those who are truly victims.

  6. DCGoneGalt says:

    Tami:  If 80% of your sex assault clients were the result of false allegations then you must have won the client lottery.  IMO, the vast majority seem to be in the grey area.  In any event, the 2% number seems low (and 80% seems ridiculously high) but the truth of the matter is that it is damn near impossible to actually prove an allegation is false (even with a recantation since I once had someone tell me recantations can also be counter-intuitive bahavior).  On the flip side assuming all non-false allegations are true is also incorrect since the vast majority that fall into a grey area that ends up not being prosecuted or ending in less than a finding of guilty.  I believe the true number of false allegations is destined to be a perpetual known unknown.   
     

  7. stewie says:

    Well I missed the part where she said justice is not about the result, I don’t think she remotely was even talking about that, but I do think it was an extremely reasonable argument countering those who would push the whole why are we even talking about false rape accusations because they almost never happen theory.
     
    We should give a serious look at every single rape accusation while maintaining a strong presumption of innocence for the accused. Which is basically me saying we should breathe air every few seconds in order to live, and yet it seems to be a novel idea for some.

  8. k fischer says:

    False allegations of rape do an injustice to the ones who are falsely accused.  Of course, that argument falls on deaf ears because the gender of those who are falsely accused of a sex crime is male, and the majority of people in the sexual grievance industry don’t care about men.  So, we have to try to reason with them by saying its bad for the “real victims.”  Of course, if they had sons who were falsely accused, then I can guarantee they would be victim blaming until the cows came home.
     
    Of course, things could be worse.  We could have the Canadian system where the prosecutor gets to appeal an acquittal.  
    And here is the complaining witness.  Can anyone translate French?  Ooooh la la………  According to the Accused who testified, she straddled him for 15 minutes while he kissed her, groped her, etc.  And, when he attempted to penetrate her, she said, “Stop” and he did. 
    But, from the cross examination, it appears that the Government wanted him convicted of assault because she didn’t kiss him back or respond
     
    These are the facts reported to to MacLeans in May 2014:

    On Dec. 15, 2011, she had Christmas lunch with her regiment in a restaurant in Lévis, Que. The drinks were flowing. At the end of the meal, she found herself alone with a superior officer in a military building. In the mess hall on the second floor, he forced her into an armchair and pressed his lips against hers. She resisted, but things quickly escalated: he bit her breast, inserted his fingers into her vagina, then tried to penetrate her. She told him to stop. “I’m not interested,” she told him. “You’re hurting me,” and finally, “No, please, I don’t want to continue.”

    At the Court martial in August she testified:

    Raymond testified that he asked her to come into a meeting room on the pretext of speaking with her and then kissed and touched her sexually. She said he also tried to get oral sex and to penetrate her despite her objections.
    “At that point, I said, ‘No, stop’.”
    The former soldier said she talked to Gagnon for about an hour and apologized for rejecting his advances. She said she did so because she feared reprisals from a superior officer. She said she also talked to him about his marital problems to help defuse the tension between them at the time.
    Afterwards, they both walked back to the restaurant to get their cars.
    Raymond said she did not physically resist Gagnon’s alleged advances because she feared he would make life difficult for her in their office. She also acknowledged she asked him not to discuss the matter with colleagues because she didn’t want to fuel office gossip.

    So, he tells her he wants to have sex with her, she goes with him to a place to be alone, he kisses her and touches her sexually, then when he tries to penetrate her, at that point she says stop.  And he does.  And the Government is appealing this acquittal.

  9. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    A nice piece from an otherwise insane website.  Yesterday, Slate ran an article where the author’s position is that spanking shouldn’t be used on children because it’s a sexual act between adults.  Inherently, this means that any parent who spanks has committed a sex act against their child.

  10. President Camacho says:

    ResIpsa – I spank my dog. Oh wait, I don’t…where is the delete button

  11. Defense Hack says:

    When the new new 120 encompasses just about everything, then everything becomes a crime. Two Soldiers getting completely and utterly trashed and the bumping uglies should result in one Soldier becoming a sex offender. The benchbook makes it clear that even in cases where both Soldiers were drunk, only the accused is held to the standard of acting like a sober person.

  12. Tami (a/k/a Princess Leia) says:

    Do you see how statistics can be misleading?  I defended 5 rape cases, only one of which ended with a conviction.  The other 4 involved 2 acquittals and 2 Chapter 10s after the Article 32 (one with a general discharge).  These 4 cases ended up showing:
    1.  The government portrayed complainant as a female Forrest Gump.  She admitted to traveling to see the accused for the purpose of having sex with him, because she was sick and tired of her overbearing mom treating her like a child.  She got mad when she heard the accused call her stupid, and she knew she would get her butt beat for disobeying her parents for seeing him against their wishes.  Her psychiatrist admitted to our expert forensic psychiatrist that the diagnosis of “autistic disorder” was shady, and solely for the purpose of “helping” the complainant, and the family to continue classifying her as a “dependent,” so that the Army would continue to cover her care, medications, and PCS moving expenses.  Acquittal.
     
    2.  Complainant accused client of rape, she was mad he wouldn’t share his pot with her, and she would have been in trouble for being in the barracks after hours.  She alleged he hit her in the head with a tack hammer (this was actually CID’s theory), then duck-taped her and raped her.  Unfortunately for her, and the government, the physical evidence, specifically the scar from her head “injury,” didn’t support that theory, as it was impossible for a tack hammer to have caused the linear injury to her head, which WAS consistent with the client’s story that they had consensual sex, she got mad when he told her to leave his room, she came at him with scissors, so he defended himself by pushing her away, and she tripped over a chair and hit her head on his bookshelf.  Acquittal.
     
    3.  Client who engaged in a “foursome,” in which the married woman, whose husband was deployed, was drunk AND high on cocaine, ran through the barracks screaming that she was raped.  One of the defense witnesses had a relative who would get high on cocaine while drunk, which led to hallucinations.  Chapter 10 after a 32 hearing (unfortunately he was an NCO who hung out with junior enlisted, and everyone in the unit was pissed at him for contributing to the black eye the unit got for the incident).
     
    4.  Complainant admitted to false accusation of rape after Article 32 hearing.  Testimony revealed she was going through a rough time in her life, which culminated when her boyfriend claimed he was “too sick” to go out with her on her birthday, so she went out with friends, and caught him in a local bar dancing with a “hoochy mama.”  She got mad, plus she didn’t want to be alone on her birthday, so she had sex with the client.  The next day she & boyfriend made up, and she was worried about others who knew she had been flirting with client and knew he had been in her room.  Chapter 10 with general discharge, as client was an NCO who was also her supervisor, and he would have been nailed in our jurisdiction for an inappropriate relationship.  She got chaptered out.
     
    4 out of 5 = 80%. 
     
    In order to be a victim, there must be an offender.  Whoever gets to CID first to complain is the “victim,” or whoever has the better memory of what happened (typically the male) is the “offender.”

  13. RKincaid3 (RK3PO) says:

    Stewie:  How could you miss it?  It was threaded throughout the article as it was about–wait for it–NOT GUARANTEEING RESULTS.  It was about not perpetuating a new myth about women–this time that women never lie about this.  No, that article was all about the justice PROCESS–starting with recognizing the obvious fact that CREDIBILITY matters and that battling sex assault requires more than simply an allegation.
     
    My take on the author’s recognizing the importance of justice as a process comes in part from the following quote:
     

    “But “believe the victim” dogma, and the resistance to seeing false accusations as a real problem, can also create a dangerous environment. It is a climate in which a law mandating an impossibly vague “affirmative consent” standard in campus sexual assault cases can be defended on the grounds that false complaints are a nonissue. It is a climate in which an exoneration is often presumed to be a miscarriage of justice, like when, earlier this year, activists at Dartmouth were dismayed at a student’s acquittal even though his story of clumsy drunken sex was backed by substantial evidence.”

     
    But, it is just my take…and I have been wrong before.  But I don’t think I am in light of Defense Hack’s oh-so-spot-on observation about the judge’s bench book and the mess that is Art 120.  Many, many folks don’t get that a justice system is a process and that process is to be blind–not tinkered with to guarantee a certain politically popular but factually incorrect result.

  14. stewie says:

    No, it was about waiting and not pre-judging evidence. Nothing more, nothing less. That isn’t the same thing as “guaranteeing results.”  She also bemoaned those who go too far the other way. She was right down the middle. I don’t think she was even talking about credibility, she’s not a lawyer. What she was talking about was finding a middle path that respected both taking and treating an alleged victim and an accused fairly and seriously.  She didn’t appear to me to be talking as much about the justice system as about attitudes and preconceptions.

  15. Dew_Process says:

    For those with a scholarly interest in this topic, see Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault (2014), available here:  http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18605&utm_expid=4418042-5.krRTDpXJQISoXLpdo-1Ynw.0
     
    And from the UK, the 2010 Baroness Stern Review available here:  http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110608160754/http:/www.equalities.gov.uk/PDF/Stern_Review_acc_FINAL.pdf
     
    The Government’s Response to the Stern Review is available here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/97907/government-stern-review.pdf
     
    I’m throwing these sources out there for folks who have an interest to look at, not because I’m endorsing anything.

  16. Dew_Process says:

    Forgot this one which is equally as interesting albeit from another perspective:  The Reliability of Assault Victims’ Immediate Accounts: Evidence from Trauma Studies, available at:   http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2492785 
     

  17. stewie says:

    Certainly it’s believable to me that what we consider trustworthy evidence may have issues, but at some point you have to accept there is no perfect evidence short of video proof, whether it’s eyewitness or an excited utterance.

  18. RkincaId3 (RK3PO) says:

    “Going right down the middle” is exactly what I am talking about when I talk about the process, Stewie.  Not having a system that prejudges the evidence is what I am talking about. The fact that she is not a lawyer is irrelevant to the fact tha is talking about ensuring fairness, be it in a trial or in reporting or responding or what have you.  
     
    Therefore, I don’t understand  your disagreement–unless it is simply that you can’t bring yourself to agree with me under any circumstance.  That’s okay if that’s the case–in fact I prefer that to the thought that you don’t see it–especially since you are far too smart to not see it.
     
    Besides you wouldn’t be the first person to disagree with me.

  19. stewie says:

    No, what you are talking about based on my recollection is the idea that result doesn’t matter, only process does. I think she’d disagree with you.

  20. Cap'n Crunch says:

    So, I was heading through the gate at a certain Air Force installation this afternoon, with my dad in the car.  He pointed out to me, before we got to the guard shack, that the only poster on the gate was related to sexual assault education.  And he asked me whether or not sexual assault was prevalent on base and of such a focus as to warrant a poster on the gate, and he reminded me that it was a fiasco and a point of focus when I was at the Academy.  I said, to sum it up: “No,  I don’t think it is prevalent, well no more than in the civilian justice system, but I think if it happens and that poster isn’t up, the CO becomes concerned about his or her next promotion.”  And therein lies the issue — no one doesn’t get promoted if the innocent are convicted, or their careers ruined.  Congress doesn’t launch investigations.  In short, there is absolutely no professional motivation for the CO to ensure justice (other than morale, maybe), but a whole lot of motivation to make sure there is sex assault seminars, investigations, and a host of other steps.  That has taken on a whole new focus, with the stacking of panels to ensure convictions, and other steps.  And it is concerning.

  21. NavyDC says:

    Cap’n Crunch, I agree.  And that’s why I’ve been wondering lately if Gillibrand’s bill to remove power from convening authorities isn’t so far from the mark.  Why are we fighting so hard to protect this CA power which 1) civilians use to blame commanders for protecting accuseds and 2) defense counsel argue actually prejudices accuseds?

  22. RKincaid3 (RK3PO) says:

    Welcome to the future of the UCMJ, Navy DC–once it takes the next inevitable revolutionary step!!   It MUST EVOLVE and the only way it can is to undo the messes that are the: politically charged UCI; a void for vagueness (due to overincludive and ambiguous and sometimes contradictory language) Art 120; the self-perpetuating anti-sex assault industry that has emerged within the military’s infrastructure–that has an unforgiveable, massive and growing budget in the midst of threatened sequestration cuts–that is about to result in the export of military-style anti-sex assault training on college campuses; as referenced by Cap’n Crunch’s post about his conversation with his father.
     
    But before that evolution can occur, Congress has to have the intelligence and courage to set aside petty partisan politics and make the changes necesaary for the UCMJ to evolve into a JUSTICE system (and not just a DISCIPLINARY tool mis-labeled as “justice”) that is worthy of the sacrifice of the service members who must live under it.  If military leadership doesn’t start telling Congress what it needs to hear (vice what it wants to hear), then Congress won’t put the pin back in this grenade (by making the necessary UCMJ changes), then we won’t have enough volunteers for our military in the future and we will have to resort once again to a draft–and I don’t mean just a draft registration requirement.
     
    TIME TO EVOLVE, Congress.

  23. k fischer says:

    NavyDC,
     
    I have long thought that Senator Gillibrand’s idea was best.   I used to not think it was because I got so wrapped up into being miffed by her rhetoric, which took every UCMJ story, both positive and negative, and twisted it to make the military into the bogeyman.  More so, she was very uneducated in how the process works and it was like nails on a chalkboard listening to her fumble around the subject.  But then, I got past that and thought what would it be like if the lawyers were running the show?  And I thought that if they were too zealous, then panels would revolt.  Whereas, if the CG was too zealous, then the panels would be less apt to revolt with an acquittal because it might affect the old man’s promotion.  And her system would take out a huge chunk of UCI.  UCI could still happen, but now the Commanders can blame the lawyers for when things don’t go Congress’ way.
     
    And, even though I was more impressed with Claire McCaskill’s knowledge on all things UCMJ, her system is far worse for the accused when you think about the big picture.  She pretty much has come out and said that her system holds Commander’s feet to the fire if they don’t try these cases.  Why can’t they hold wimpy SJA’s feet to the fire when they don’t try cases?  So, now you have a person who is biased for his or her personal interests who are preferring charges, and the panel who is judging the accused thinks that he wouldn’t waste their time with a trial if the accused wasn’t guilty.  How fair is a system is that? 
     
    And, the timing of the hysterics also drove my original opinion that Gillibrand’s plan was not one that I would support.  She and McCaskill were outraged because Franklin dismissed the charges against Wilkerson, therefore, they should not have that authority and the UCMJ should be placed under the control of lawyers.  Why would I support that?  The lawyers wouldn’t give any clemency if they were in control, right?  And they were protesting a defense friendly action taken by the GCMCA.
     
    Well, how often do we see Commanders give clemency, or go against the advice of their SJA to give clemency?  Hardly ever.  It happens, I’m sure, but for the vast, vast, vast majority of cases, the GCMCA would more likely be apt to go against the advice of the SJA on granting clemency, and would be more apt to not want to give clemency to a convicted person.
     
    So, rather than getting bogged down into the argument in favor of one case that went the defense’s way and opposing Gillibrand’s idea, it would better for the defense to focus on the long term vision of what is going to be more fair for the accused?  Put UCMJ authority into the hands of licensed practitioners and have a truly random selection of panel members, like a urinalysis roster, with the only exclusion being date of rank, leave, or TDY.