Aren’t false accusations of rape rare?
To my considerable chagrin, we found that at least 60 percent of all the rape allegations were false.
Dr Charles P. McDowell, Supervisory Special Agent, U. S.
Air Force, Office of Special Investigations55
When the U S. Air Force investigated 556 cases of alleged rape, 27 percent of the women eventually admitted they had lied (either just before they took a lie-detector test or after they failed it).54 Because other cases were less certain, the air force asked three independent reviewers to review these cases. They used twenty-five criteria that were common to the women who had acknowledged they lied. If all three reviewers agreed that the rape allegation was false, it was ranked as false (There were no convictions of these women – it was just a study ) Their conclusion? A total of 60 percent of the original rape allegations were false
Dr. McDowell, the supervisory special agent, had already distinguished himself by being among the first to predict that Cathleen Crowell Webb’s false accusation of Gary Dotson was, in fact, false Webb was so impressed with his analysis that she published it as an appendix in her book Forgive Me}” Dr. McDowell nevertheless feared publishing the air force findings, thinking they might be representative of findings only in military situations and that publishing them might therefore be misleading, so he examined the police files from a major midwestem and a southwestern city. The findings of 60 percent false accusations held, but the cities requested anonymity for fear of political repercussions.
Most counties and cities do not open their files to the public. Those that do usually categorize false reports – in which the woman admits she lied – as "unfounded" (not false), the same as reports in which there is no evidence, or not enough to warrant a trial When The Washington Post got some counties in the Washington area to open their files, two of the largest counties, Prince George in Maryland and Fairfax in Virginia, had recorded 30 and 40 percent false or unfounded, respectively.56 (In contrast, false claims of burglaries, robberies, and auto thefts range between 1 and 5 percent.37)
Aren’t these findings in conflict with the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports which the media has popularized as saying that only 9 percent of rape accusations are false or unfounded?58 No. The FBI knows the number of women who reported they were raped, but not whether the rapist was found guilty or innocent. In 47 percent of the cases, the alleged rapist has rot even been identified or found, or if he has been found, there was insufficient evidence to arrest him.59 The remaining 53 percent were arrested, but the FBI doesn 7 receiie data as to whether they were eventually found guilty or innocent40 In brief, as far as the FBI knows, the percentage of false accusations overall could be anywhere from zero to 100 percent.
While every man who is falsely accused is, in essence, emotionally raped, a false accusation often also creates an economic rape. In 1993, when a woman lied about being raped in Nordstrom’s, Nordstrom’s had changed their security system in seventy-two stores in ten states prior to laboratory tests uncovering evidence in direct contradiction to the woman’s story (which led to the woman acknowledging she lied).41 The reputation of the victim (Nordstrom’s) was damaged for two weeks in the national media while the name of the victimizer was kept confidential. The district attorney’s office refused to prosecute the woman. No one compensated Nordstrom’s. Nor does anyone compensate everyone who shops at Nordstrom’s. Nor does anyone compensate everyone who shops at Nordstrom’s who is paying for that false accusation.
The only things we know for sure, then, are that false accusations are not a rarity, that they are themselves a form of rape, and that they are a political hot potato. It will doubtless take a female politician of enormous integrity to confront the issue. But the exact percentage of false accusations is of secondary importance. Of primary importance is that the judge and jury realize that either sex could be the victim; that in the case of date rape, there could be, in fact, a misunderstanding; that a woman can feel intimidated about making a genuine accusation, and that a man’s life can be ruined (losing job, wife, and children) even if he is found not guilty, that both parties must therefore receive due process (as opposed to having rape shield law’s protecting the female more than the male).