Ten reasons false rape accusations are common

Feminists and their ideological allies routinely dismiss and trivialize the experiences of men falsely accused of rape by claiming that “only 2% of rape accusations are false—the same as false reports of other crimes.” They also invoke this claim as a rationalization to erode due process for the wrongly accused—especially in academia, where male students are often effectively guilty until proven innocent.

The 2% claim is more than just an erroneous figure. It is a lie. Substantial evidence exists that—when taken together—confirms that false rape accusations occur substantially more often than false reports of other crimes.

Given the inherent flaws in measuring criminological behavior, the rate of false rape accusations cannot be dictated by any individual criterion. Instead, it must be triangulated by multiple factors. When taken together, these factors confirm that false rape accusations occur substantially more often than false reports of other crimes. Ten of those factors are listed below.

This is a compilation-style AVFMS post with extensive source citations. Let it be a resource to anyone interested in raising awareness of the problem of false accusations and challenging those who dare repeat the lie that only 2% of rape claims are false.

The Reasons

1. Experts working in the trenches of the criminal justice system report that, in light of their experience, false rape accusations are much higher.

Criminal justice professionals have the power to investigate rape with far greater accuracy than academics. The latter regularly rely on survey research for criminological data, which often involves simply taking the respondent’s answers to their questions (many of which are tailored to corral respondents into answering in a particular way) as gold.

At the same time, they abstain from conducting an independent investigation into the crime scene, evidence, eyewitness statements, cross-examining statements by the accuser, interviewing the accused, and so forth.

Criminal justice professionals do all these things. Thus, their experience is not to be taken lightly. This is especially true the more experienced they are. Consider the words of veteran sex-crimes prosecutor Craig Silverman:

For 16 years, I was a kickass prosecutor who made most of my reputation vigorously prosecuting rapists. I am unaware of any Colorado prosecutor who put as many rapists away for as much prison time as I did during my prosecutorial career. Several dozen rapists are serving thousands of years as a result of my efforts.

However, during my time as a prosecutor who made case filing decisions, I was amazed to see all the false rape allegations that were made to the Denver Police Department. It was remarkable and surprising to me. You would have to see it to believe it.

Any honest veteran sex assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported crimes that there is. A command officer in the Denver Police sex assaults unit recently told me he placed the false rape numbers at approximately 45 percent. Objective studies have confirmed this. See Purdue Professor Kanin’s nine-year study published in 1994 concluding that over 40 percent of rape allegations were demonstrably false.

The above statements are heresy to say publicly for many politically correct prosecutors. That is especially true if they want to maintain good relations with the victim advocacy community.[1]

Note that not only does Silverman say that false rape accusations happen with remarkable regularity, but also that there is a culture that stifles speech daring to voice this inconvenient truth.

Oftentimes, whenever police or prosecutors speak the truth about the rate of false rape accusations, feminist and related interest groups demand that they undergo “sensitivity training.” What this really means is that they must be intimidated, browbeaten, threatened, and coerced into apologizing for stating an inconvenient truth.

These groups also tend to advocate definitions of rape that fly in the face of the legal (real) definitions and are simply out of touch with how crimes must be investigated.

Despite this, however, police will occasionally show off-the-cuff candor. After investigating a woman’s claim that turned out to be false, Captain Randy Lewis of Rexburg PD told reporters that “we run into that all the time.”[2] After a similar investigation, Captain Lynn Mitchell of the U Police said, “Rape is a very ugly, violent crime which law enforcement and the community take very seriously. However, there are many fraudulent reports of rape each year.”[3]

After a woman falsely accused a man of rape in Orlando, FL, police told local news reporters that false reporting “has reached an epidemic level.”[4] They then made a point to ask the community stop making so many false rape claims because it was draining precious resources from the criminal justice system.[5]

Sgt. Sandra Tomeo of Plano PD told reporters for the Plano Star Courier that false rape accusations were “a common occurrence,” citing numbers indicating that ~47% of rape accusations made to Plano, TX, police were demonstrably false.[6]

Speaking to the Warrington Guardian, Detective Dougie Shaw said:

We have anything up to four or five reports of rape every weekend but a large number of complaints turn out to be something else with some not thinking about the consequences of false allegations. But we always take allegations of rape seriously and do everything we can to gather evidence.

Most weekends we also have a report from somebody saying their drink has been spiked with rohypnol—while we have had cases where women have been drugged these are extremely rare. We actually have significantly less genuine rape cases than those reported so it is important to consider the percentage of bona fide reports when looking at conviction statistics, which appear low because they encompass all reports.[7]

Barbara C. Johnson, a former attorney with ~20 years experience and an advisor to the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Bicentennial Committee, also describes the rate of false rape accusations as being excessively high in her book Behind the Black Robes: Failed Justice.[10]

2. Rape claims are made for a much wider variety of reasons than false accusations of other crimes

The nature of false rape accusations is different from false reports of other crimes in ways that distinctively facilitate false rape claims. Accusing someone of rape claims requires virtually no physical evidence. For this reason, rape lies can be flung about for all sorts of reasons.

Rape lies are sometimes concocted as a form of revenge to land ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands in jail or as a means to get rid of a current partner. A woman may lie about rape to cover up the fact that she is cheating on her husband, which sometimes results in her husband killing her lover. Sometimes, if the husband is having an affair, the woman the man is having an affair with will falsely accuse him of rape if she is caught by his wife.

Some female students falsely accused their teacher of rape because they get poor final grades in class or as an excuse for failing their exams. Other women make up false claims simply to get attention or because they regret a consensual sexual encounter. In some cases, women lie about rape to get an abortion (see here and here). There is also a rash of feminists who make false rape claims (especially in academia) as a means to “raise awareness” of the problem of rape.

Sometimes entire groups of men are falsely accused, which happened at Duke[11] and Hostra universities. While both cases were highly publicized and accompanied by public outcry, neither false accuser was charged. One woman cried rape because a man forgot her name.

There is also virtually no limit to which some women will go to fabricate a false claim. Some women seek out S&M/bondage encounters and use the rough sex as “evidence” against the men they falsely accuse. Some women give themselves black eyes, or rip their clothes and scratch their faces, or cut themselves, or tie themselves up as “evidence” against the men they falsely accuse.

There are also some women who use false rape claims as a means of extorting money from men. In some places, women who claim rape can immediately apply for “victim’s compensation,” which has led some women to lie about rape just to be handed free money.

When was the last time you heard of someone being falsely accused of murder for such a wide range of reasons?

3. False rape accusations are rarely punished, removing the deterrent to falsely accuse.

Why do people do bad things? Often because they can. The absence of law and law enforcement tends to embolden the corrupt and corrupt the good.

Listen to this excerpt from my April 2012 interview with A&M-Commerce’s Title IX Coordinator Michele Vieira on the systemic lack of punishments for false accusers in academia. Keep in mind that a Title IX Coordinator is the one who, along with the Dean of Students/Student Affairs personnel, investigates accusations of sexual misconduct on campus:

Even in cases that receive a high degree of public outcry false accusers are not charged. The infamous false accuser Crystal Mangum in the 2006 Duke lacrosse false rape case was not charged either despite overwhelming evidence that she lied. This news outlet reports about a woman who was spared jail despite making not one, not two, but eight false rape claims.[8] Another woman finally was jailed for a false rape claim, but only because it was the third time.[9]

At Hofstra University, Danmell Ndonye falsely accused five young men of gang rape as an alibi to her boyfriend for having sex with several men in a restroom. Even though one of the young men recorded the incident with his phone and proved she lied, she was never charged with a crime.

Even when police acknowledge the high rate of false rape accusations (as I documented earlier in this post), the false accusers are not charged. And when they are charged, it is often on the grounds that they waste police resources or damage the credibility of rape victims, not that they put men through a living hell.

What does the absence of any public mention of the harm to the wrongly accused—on the rare occasion that false accusations are punished at all—say about how much society values their humanity?

4. Numerous studies have concluded that false rape accusations are significantly higher than false accusations of other crimes.

All research is flawed to a greater or lesser degree, and research on false rape claims is no exception. What research we do have is troubling, however.

Dr. Eugene Kanin is a retired sociologist at Purdue University. As an early feminist he pioneered awareness and study of the concept of date rape. In the 1990s he authored a study on the prevalence of false rape accusations that concluded that 41% of the accusers —which were in fact all of the accusations made to the police department of a small metropolitan area over a ten-year period—were false.

The primary reasons he cited for making false claims were “providing an alibi, seeking revenge, and obtaining sympathy and attention.” This is consistent with news coverage of many false rape claims, as mentioned in section 3 above.

Those who critique his study often attempt to distract others from the implications of the data by pointing to irrelevant elements of the study. For example, they will point to the fact that polygraph tests were administered to the accusers as though this somehow seriously impacts the data, without mentioning that such tests were also administered to the accused.

Kanin’s critics will also often ignore the most powerful evidence from his study: the police only considered an accusation false when the accusers themselves admitted it, regardless as to whatever they themselves thought about the case. Given that there were likely numerous false accusers who did not recant this means the 41% false rape figure is actually the floor, and the real percentage may be significantly higher.

Kanin’s study is also cited by criminal justice professionals as consistent with their experiences, such as sex-crimes prosecutor Craig Silverman earlier in this article.

This isn’t the only study, however; Dr. Charles McDowell investigated false claims in the military as well. The findings:

A review of 556 rape accusations filed against Air Force personnel found that 27% of women later recanted. Then 25 criteria were developed based on the profile of those women, and then submitted to three independent reviewers to review the remaining cases. If all three reviewers deemed the allegation was false, it was categorized as false.

As a result, 60% of all allegations were found to be false. Of those women who later recanted, many didn’t admit the allegation was false until just before taking a polygraph test. Others admitted it was false only after having failed a polygraph test.[12]

While the most problematic element in these studies is determining how representative these sample sizes are of the general population of accusers, the implications of the data are troubling even when interpreted charitably in favor of accusers. If the average rate of false accusations for crimes in general is ~2%, what does it mean when it is generous to say that the rate of false rape accusations is at least ten times that amount, and likely much higher?

A 1996 Department of Justice report documented that “in about 25% of the sexual assault cases referred to the FBI … the primary suspect has been excluded by forensic DNA testing.”[13] In other words, the DNA found on the accuser didn’t match that of the accused.

It is possible (though unlikely in most such cases) that the DNA mismatches are the result of misidentifications and that a rape really did occur. However, as feminists themselves tell us, most rape does not involve strangers jumping out of the bushes. They are committed by a person the accuser knows.

It is important to remember that this figure only represents cases that were referred to the FBI, a limitation. However, it should also be noted that even a DNA match would not in itself prove that a rape occurred; all it would prove is that intercourse occurred. A significant number of accusations involving a DNA match are false as well, meaning that more than 25% of the cases referred to the FBI in the 1996 DoJ report were false accusations.

5. The “scholarship” that “proves” false rape accusations are around 2% is little more than intellectual fraud and not based on any real investigation.

As Edward Greer, J.D., states in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, “no study has ever been published which sets forth an evidentiary basis for the ‘two percent false rape complaint’ thesis,” and that “without exception every scholarly or semi-scholarly source that utilizes the two percent false claim proposition can ultimately be traced back to Against Our Will.”

Against Our Will is a book on rape by feminist Susan Brownmiller that was published in the 1970s. Brownmiller claims that she was given the figure by a professional in the criminal justice system. We are given no evidence other than her word that this was ever the case.

Nonetheless, Brownmiller’s claim was cited by one feminist professor after another. Since citing a professor instead of an unverifiable anecdote from a lone feminist gives the claim a greater appearance of merit, once one professor cites it, the next professor cites that professor, and so on. Eventually a labyrinthine web of citations is constructed. In the end, however, they all point to this one source, a source that is obviously biased and cannot be verified.

It also bears mention that as a group feminist professors behave very much like a cult rather than a scholarly community. Not only do they tend to favor obscurantism and rail against objectivity (see the famous atheist Richard Dawkins describing this phenomenon), but they also tend to cite only those within their narrow, insular circle and shun voices from the outside. Much like the charge of blasphemy among religious zealots, when their arguments fall through they often resort to making personal accusations against those who disagree with them (“Misogyny!”).

This lack of quality control has led to a great amount of academic fraud among the feminist community—some of which is laughably bad. The 2% false rape figure is yet another example of this.

6. The higher the rate of rape underreporting, the higher the rate of false rape reports will be.

It is the nature of rape that the crime itself is underreported. When it comes to false rape complaints, the exact opposite is the case. Indeed, a false rape complaint derives most of its power from the very fact that it is reported.

When underreporting occurs, it narrows the pool of genuine rape complaints. This means that a greater percentage of rape complaints will turn out to be false, since those claims are not underreported. The video below explains this phenomenon more clearly:

7. It is harder to prove that a rape accusation is false than other false accusations; therefore, there is less disincentive to falsely accuse.

Simply put, it is harder to prove a negative (“prove you didn’t do it!”) in he said/she said cases. Accusers can also make false accusations of rapes that supposedly occurred years earlier and tarnish the reputations of those they accuse, all without evidence. The lack of evidence may make it difficult to move her case forward, but it will also make it difficult to bring a case against her as well.

8. Female students are systemically taught that sex is rape when it is not, essentially being taught to make false rape accusations.

Accusations of rape that fall outside the legal definition of the crime are false rape accusations. The administrations of many schools, however, think that they are a law unto themselves when they brand this-or-that student a rapist based upon their own “extralegal” definitions of rape, which they often adopt at the demand of feminists. They are mistaken.

They are also mistaken when they encourage female students to accuse male students of rape based upon these extralegal definitions. In short, what they are actually doing is encouraging female students to make false rape accusations.

Goshen College once famously declared a new form of rape called “psychological rape,” saying that “psychological rape consists of verbal harassment, whistles, kissing noises, heavy breathing, sly comments or stares. These are all assaults on any woman’s sense of well-being.”[14]

And that’s just the start. Below are a few examples of other school policies, warehoused at the key AVFMS post on Rights and Protections for Men and Boys in Education. Some schools:

  • Declare that, in regards to consent, “no always means no” but “yes does not always mean yes,” and hold that body language, context, tone, etc.—even when they contradict words expressing consent—may be used to convict a male student but cannot be used to acquit him. Example: Occidental College.
  • Declare that accusers who are drunk are not capable of agency, whereas those accused who are drunk are capable of agency (i.e., by punishing a male student when both the accuser and the accused are drunk and have sex). Example: Mississippi State University (see here and here).
  • Adopt an “affirmative consent” policy, which declares that the accused must prove that the accuser verbalized her consent by explicitly stating “yes” at each degree of the sexual encounter. For example, if the woman said “yes” when a man kissed her but not “yes” when he touched her breast, it is an act of sexual assault. Nods, winks, and other gestures do not count toward consent. Examples: St. Louis UniversityElon University, and Gettysburg College.
  • Adopt a policy that a woman’s consent is not valid if the person she accused of rape “is perceived as more powerful” than the accuser. Examples: Duke UniversityVassar College, and Loyola Marymount University.
  • Lastly, schools are continuously pushed to adopt broader and more draconian measures in addition to the ones they already have. Example: the “enthusiastic consent” standard advocated at Harvard, whereby sexual assault occurs if a woman’s consent is not sufficiently “enthusiastic” (according to extreme feminist standards of “enthusiasm”). This policy was at least adopted at Vassar College and Loyola Marymount University.

9. The community opposed to acknowledging the problem of false rape accusations while supporting the 2% figure has an ideological agenda that is notoriously bigoted and anti-male.

The more vociferously an idea is opposed by a group of narrow-minded and bigoted dogmatists, the greater the likelihood that the idea they oppose is actually true. This is especially true when it comes to how feminists and their ideological allies treat men who are wrongly accused of rape.

Feminist and former ACLU board member Wendy Kaminer is famous for saying, “It is a primary article of faith among many feminists that women don’t lie about rape, ever; they lack the dishonesty gene.”[14] This is, of course, demonstrably false.

Not only do many feminists view false rape accusations as insignificant, but some also view them as a justifiable vengeance that should be inflicted upon men. Many feminists are notoriously hostile to due process, resembling more the nature of medieval witch-hunters than enlightened progressives.

Many prominent feminists also adopt radically broad definitions of rape. These “all sex is rape” feminists inevitably include many innocent men within the scope of those they falsely label as rapists. Here are a few quotes from feminists in academia, which are warehoused (among many others) on the key AVFMS page “The Language of Misandry in Academia”:

“Feminism is built on believing women’s accounts of sexual use and abuse by men.”

—Feminist Professor Catharine MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified, p. 5.

“They [victims of false rape accusations] have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they say I did?’ Those are good questions.”

—Dr. Catherine Comins, assistant dean of students at Vassar College. Source: TIME magazine.

“I’m really tired of people suggesting that you’re somehow un-American if you don’t respect the presumption of innocence, because you know what that sounds like to a victim? Presumption you’re a liar.”

—Wendy Murphy, adjunct professor of law and sex-assault victim advocate, commenting on the Duke lacrosse false rape case. Source: National Public Radio.

“If a woman did falsely accuse a man of rape, she may have had reasons to. Maybe she wasn’t raped, but he clearly violated her in some way.”

—Ginny, college senior interviewed by TIME magazine (source here).

“It’s obviously one of the big side effects, if it could result in an innocent person being found guilty. But I think sexual assault is such a big issue that it’s worth the risk.”

—First-year student Steph Winters at the University of Maryland on the school lowering its standard of evidence to “convict” male students of sexual assault. Source: The Diamondback (school newspaper).

“So many women get their lives totally ruined by being assaulted and not saying anything. So if one guy gets his life ruined, maybe it balances out.”

—Oberlin sophomore Emily Lloyd, after feminist students were criticized for placing posters around campus that bore the title “Rapist of the Month,” and below that heading a name of a freshman male drawn randomly from the campus registry. Source: the Toledo Blade.

“There is no clear distinction between consensual sex and rape, but a continuum of pressure, threat, coercion and force. The concept of a continuum validates the sense of abuse women feel when they do not freely consent to sex.”

—Dr. Liz Kelly, The Hidden Gender of Law, p. 350.

“Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated.”

—Dr. Catharine MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified, p. 82.

“Sexual violence includes any physical, visual, verbal or sexual act that is experienced by the woman or girl, at the time or later, as a threat, invasion or assault that has the effect of hurting her or degrading her and/or taken away her ability to control intimate contact.’”

—Dr. Liz Kelly, Surviving Sexual Violence, p. 41.

“In this book we will be using the term victim to refer to people who claim to have been sexually assaulted.”

—Drs. Carol Bohmer and Andrea Parrot, Sexual Assault on Campus, p. 5.

10. False rape accusations are the dark side of female nature/socialization.

In his study on false rape accusations, Dr. Eugene Kanin said:

[S]omething biological, legal, and cultural would seem to make false rape allegations inevitable. If rape were a commonplace victimization experience of men, if men could experience the anxiety of possible pregnancy from illicit affairs, if men had a cultural base that would support their confidence in using rape accusations punitively, and if men could feel secure that victimization could elicit attention and sympathy, then men also would be making false rape accusations.

But they don’t.

Writing for the Washington City Paper, feminist Amanda Hess argued that a woman who has consensual sex she later regrets once it becomes public “must defend her femininity by saying that she had been coerced into sex.” Men, however, do not make false rape accusations because they regret consensual sexual encounters with unattractive women.

This is not to say that men are all angels. There are some forms of evil that are distinctive (though not unique) to men. But false rape accusations are not one of them; on the contrary, they are overwhelmingly (and almost exclusively) a female domain.

Some might say, “So you’re saying women have a dark side to them. How does that make you different from the feminists you criticize?” That is quite simple. Feminists say men are bad and women are good. In their worldview, women are never capable of evil—or if they are, it is only because they are mirroring the evil of men (as Hess argues later in her article).

I say that both men and women are bad and good, although they sometimes demonstrate this in different ways. At the end of the day, everyone is accountable for the good and the bad they do. You won’t find many feminists advocating ideas like that.

But even if the 2% figure were true …

It is abundantly obvious by now that the claim of “only 2% of rape accusations are false” is a lie. But even if it were true, would it matter? Would it be a justifiable reason to brush aside the experiences of the wrongly accused, as Feminists & Friends so often do? Let’s look at it a different way by examining another low statistic.

Medical studies report that of women who are raped, roughly 5% of them will become pregnant. In June 2013, Republican Trent Franks argued that women who become pregnant from a rape should not be allowed to seek abortions because the rate of pregnancy resulting from rape is extremely low.

Feminists did not challenge the 5% statistic but instead became livid that anyone would consider disregarding the experiences of such women, even if they were only 5% of the total.

So I must ask: What’s the big difference between 2% and 5%? If 2% is so petty and trivial—indeed, next to nothing—what makes 5% worthy of a full-scale national uproar? If we behaved like feminists, wouldn’t we treat those 5% of rape victims who become pregnant very similarly to how they treat the 2% of men who (they erroneously claim) are falsely accused?

Do you think feminists would accept such an arrangement? You know the answer.


*Since this is a compilation-style/key resource page, some of the more critical links have also been preserved via screenshot.

[1] Craig Silverman. Link to ABC article here. See the backup screenshot here.

[2] Link here. See the backup screenshot here.

[3] Captain Lynn Mitchell, the Daily Utah ChronicleLink to article here. See the backup screenshot here.

[4] Link here. See the backup screenshot here.

[5] Link here. See the backup screenshot here.

[6] The Plano Courier. Link here. See the backup screenshot here.

[7] Link here. See the backup screenshot here.

[8] Link here.

[9] Link here.

[10] Barbara C. Johnson, Behind the Black Robes: Failed Justice, p. 128-29. Some quotes (including those in question) can be found at The False Rape Society.

[11] See Until Proven Innocent by Dr. KC Johnson. Also, see this video on the 2006 Duke lacrosse false rape case.

[12] McDowell CP. False allegations. Forensic Science Digest, Vol. 11, No. 4, December 1985.

[13] Connors E, Lundregan T, Miller N, McEwen T. Convicted by juries, exonerated by science: Case studies in the use of DNA evidence to establish innocence after trial. June 1996. http://www.ncjrs.gov/txtfiles/dnaevid.txt. A backup text has been preserved at AVFMS here.

[14] Goshen College. Link here, screenshot here, AVFMS article here.

[15] Kaminer, W. (1993, October). Feminism’s identity crisis. The Atlantic Monthly, p. 67.

This item originally published on A Voice for Male Students. –DE


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