Editor’s note: This article is also available in Italian.
I am not the typical woman you see posting pictures and declaring she doesn’t need feminism. I considered myself a feminist for 30 years. Like most women who consider themselves feminists, I didn’t read feminist literature or take women’s studies courses. I just believed it was about equality. I believed, and still do, that women are as intelligent and capable as men and should have equal rights and opportunities. That is what I thought feminism was all about. I was wrong.
In June of 2013 my boyfriend was driving me to work. We were pulled over by the Ashland Police and he was arrested for rape, cuffed, and thrown in the maximum security rape tank at the Jackson County Jail on a $1 million bail. It seems there had already been a secret grand jury that had indicted on just the testimony of his accuser.
I was completely aware of the allegations. His father’s now ex wife, Lisa, a mentally ill woman with a history of false reporting, was doing it to punish his father. It turns out the judge in the divorce had already dismissed her claims against her husband of sexually abusing the chihuahuas. Now she was going after Greg to hurt his father. She had told a friend that if she “didn’t get the house, the boat and the dogs in the divorce she would destroy” his father’s life by claiming that he had raped her.
I sprung into action. After alerting work to the situation, I drove home to start making phone calls. A terrible mistake had been made. I believed that I could get them the information and he would be released. I was wrong.
First, I found out that the police had not done an investigation. When Greg found out what Lisa was claiming, he immediately contacted the police. It took weeks for them to get back to him. He went down and told the detective in charge what had and had not happened. There had never been any sex, consensual or otherwise. Greg gave him a list of witnesses and informed him of her mental illness and the fact that she was on a list of psychotropic drugs. No witnesses were ever contacted.
How does this happen? How does a completely innocent man, with a completely clean record and no evidence that a crime was committed end up being thrown in jail and held on an enormous bail? We thought it must be complete incompetence. We were wrong.
It turns out the Ashland Police Department was rolling out a new program. It is called You Have Options and it is being widely celebrated and implemented in police forces nation wide. Under this program the police act more as rape crisis counselors than detectives. They blindly believe the accuser, allow the accuser to decide how much of an investigation takes place, if any. It also allows the accuser to decide if the witnesses or the accused are interviewed or informed of the charges. If Greg’s father had not alerted him to what she was doing he might not have been aware of it until they were arresting him.
In the week after Greg’s arrest I did the investigation the police should have done. I found Lisa’s daughter, who was willing to testify for the defense on Lisa’s multiple false accusations. I had established that Lisa was not even in the state at the time she claims the assault happened (two years prior), and I got a letter from a friend of Lisa’s who claimed that Lisa had premeditated the false allegation to punish Greg’s father in the event she did not get what she wanted in the divorce. I found a lot of exculpatory evidence and got it to the police. Making matters worse, in that first week I was also fired from the job that I loved and was given no explanation. It would all be worth it if I could get Greg out of that horrible place. The detective put together a report and delivered it to the DA who promptly ignored it.
It turns out that Oregon has hearsay exception laws that allow for the indictment for rape on just the accusers testimony if there is no other evidence and if there is no reason to question that testimony. By not doing an investigation the police managed to avoid all the evidence and all the reasons to question her claims, and as a safety net for the DA, just in case they are completely wrong, and destroying innocent people’s lives, the DA gets the grand jury to give them immunity. This is a recipe for disaster. No accountability.
Fortunately, Greg got an amazing public defender. She uncovered the fact that Lisa had claimed that Greg had been molesting her for years and it was all in her psychiatric report. The police had requested that report over a year ago and the DA was still waiting for it. When the report finally arrived, 53 days after Greg had been incarcerated and the day before jury selection, there was absolutely no mention of it. Lisa had made it up and lied to the grand jury, a felony. The charges were “dismissed in the interest of justice.” Greg was released and I had him home.
That is when the real learning began. At this point I still believed that feminism was about equality. If feminists knew this was happening they would be concerned, too. Again, I was wrong. Feminists asked us not to come forward with the story. They did not want other women to be discouraged from coming forward. The DA chose not to file charges against Lisa stating that “Just as Hartley is innocent under the law because of his constitutional protections, so, too, the same presumption of innocence applies to his accuser” “How would we prove it? There was no confession or recantation.”
So, the only time they will consider it a false report is when the accuser actually recants and confesses to the crime? The only evidence there had ever been of a crime in this case was of her filing a false report and committing perjury before a grand jury. No wonder they get to claim that false reporting is rare. What is really rare is women admitting they falsely accused innocent men.
Apparently we were supposed to go home and try to get on with our lives. We were supposed to pretend it never happened. The state, the city, and police refuse to acknowledge what happened. It wasn’t their fault. There would be no justice. At least Rolling Stone admitted their mistake and apologized. We can not even get them to acknowledge we exist.
I descended on social media like a storm. Surely those good people on Huffington Post, Raw Story, Salon, among others would care that this was happening. False reporting is not only horrendous for the accused it makes it harder for actual rape victims to get justice. The response was being called a traitor to my gender, to be told I was internalizing my misogyny. I actually had a feminist threaten to destroy my life and contact my employer to get me fired. Jokes on her; I had no job.
Most of the feminists who bothered to listen, came back with attacks. My boyfriend should learn to control himself. I calmly explained he had done nothing wrong. They could not hear it. Feminists repeat the lie that false reporting is rare often enough that they blindly believe it. Even when the cases that feminist journalists use to prove that there is a rape crisis end up being false reportings, they still either choose to believe the accuser, despite evidence they are lying, or claim that at least they brought attention to the problem. They are so blinded they cannot even admit that a crime with actual victims has been committed.
The common narrative among feminists is that women do not lie about rape. They also charge anyone who bothers to question the veracity of those claims with victim blaming. There have been recent protests at Berkley and Ohio University against affording the accused due process. These feminists feel that since women do not lie about rape, we should just be able to assume that all accused are guilty.
There is absolutely no concern that innocent lives may be destroyed.
When the Rolling Stone came forward with an apology over the article on the UVA Gang Rape, which also ended up being a false reporting, their was a tremendous outrage. Feminists were not angry because innocent men were falsely accused and had their reputations damaged. They were not angry because a woman had committed the crime of false reporting. They were angry that Rolling Stone followed this narrative and inadvertently exposed the fact that women do, in fact, lie about rape. The fact that there were actual victims of the false reporting is not even mentioned. Not only did they not care about the victims of false reporting, they flatly refused to admit that they even existed.
Fortunately a local monthly publication was willing to cover our nightmare and wrote an amazing story, but people needed to know about this outside of our little valley though. The You Have Options program responsible was being outsourced to other states. It was a finalist for the Webber Seavey award for Quality in Law Enforcement. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was promoting it to Congress as a solution to the rape crisis and was using it as the model for the Campus Accountability & Safety Act (CASA) program. I wrote articles and letters to every media outlet I could find contact information for, from DemocracyNow to FOX news. Absolutely no one was interested in covering the story. How could they continue to claim that false reporting was rare if they acknowledged it was happening?
The bigger question we should all be asking is, if there is indeed a rape crisis and if false reporting is so rare, why is it these journalists who are intent on exposing the rape crisis keep exposing false reportings and can not seem to find an actual rape?
What I learned in those first months was that feminism was not interested in equality. Feminism is a profoundly dishonest ideology that puts forth dishonest studies designed to get the results they want. Feminists attack anyone who even attempts to point out its shortcomings and hypocrisy. Feminism is in no way interested in the truth. And feminists are completely unconcerned with the injustices suffered by the falsely accused, all while claiming that they are fighting for men’s rights as well.
I am a strong intelligent woman who fights for equality. I am an educated, a middle aged, hairy legged, liberal, hippy. I thought I was a feminist. I was wrong.