Washington has been buzzing over the case of Sean Lanigan, a P.E. teacher in suburban Virginia who was accused of sexual molesting a 12-year-old girl. The jury acquitted Lanigan in less than an hour, one juror reportedly weeping in sympathy with Lanigan for lack of evidence.
Much of the outrage centers around the actions of Nicole Christian, the lead detective who threatened to prosecute school staff for obstruction of justicewhen they gave her evidence pointing to Lanigan’s innocence.
Innocence? Not in this cop’s vocabulary.
Christian then refused to re-interview a key witness who knew the accusation was a lie and wanted to recant her story. Christian’s declined the meeting because, in her words, “if she changes her story, they’re [the jury] going to wonder why she changed her testimony.”
Then she ordered an investigation of the witness’s mother for alleged child abuse. How’s that for bullying the witnesses and manipulating the investigation?
A year after a jury of his peers cleared him of all wrong-doing, the Fairfax County school district continues to treat Sean Lanigan like damaged goods, refusing to offer an apology or pay his legal bills.
And recall the case of Crystal Mangum, notorious accuser in the Duke lacrosse case. Four years ago North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper pronounced the three men innocent of all charges. Cooper then informed the stunned audience that he would not charge Mangum with perjury, floating the notion that “she may actually believe the many different stories that she has been telling.”
Four years later, Mangum, still reveling in her socially protected status, plunged a kitchen knife into the chest of boyfriend Reginald Daye.
Domestic violence is another area where false allegations have become de rigeur. For years the abuse industry has anointed itself with sack-cloth and ashes, meeting with state legislators to expand definitions and lower standards of proof.
Now the system is a shambles. It’s like a welfare system with no means testing – all you have to do is claim you’re down on your luck and presto, you’re in! Women who used to be known as Welfare Queens now go by the somewhat less regal moniker DV Fakers, according to a recent Village Voiceexpose.
Researcher Denise Hines of Clark University has studied the plight of men who have been emotionally and physically tormented by their wives. These men can’t call the police because their partners threaten to accuse them of being the perpetrators of the violence. So the threat of a false accusation serves to trap these men in the nightmare of an endlessly abusive relationship.
There are many reasons for our current epidemic of false allegations. Prosecutors who wink at perjurers shoulder part of the blame. Casey Gwinn, a well-known San Diego prosecutor, has said:
“If we prosecuted everybody for perjury that gets on a witness stand and changes their story, everybody would go to jail…I would say it’s in the thousands of people who take the witness stand and somewhat modify the truth.”
But Gwinn misses the point. If prosecutors went after only one in 100 women who batter the truth, the resulting publicity would send an unmistakable message to the community at large.
One Colorado mother, her own son accused of rape by a bi-polar woman who couldn’t offer a scrap of evidence of wrongdoing, recently penned this cri de coeur:
“The system has supported all women, even those who lie. They’ve made it easy for them. If it is proven that a woman has lied, they are not prosecuted. They are at most sent to counseling. And being a ‘victim’ can be intoxicating to some. It can let them off the hook for being responsible for their own actions.”
Civil liberties’ proponents aren’t the only ones up in arms. Social conservatives wring their hands over the ensuing family break-down and fraying of the social fabric.
Fiscal conservatives take the analysis one step further, pointing out that children in single-parent households are far more likely to become beneficiaries of the welfare state. False allegations of domestic violence cost taxpayers $20 billion a year, thanks to swelling demand for welfare services and public benefits:
On June 2, a False Allegations Summit will be held in Washington DC, featuring testimonies by persons who have been falsely accused of abuse:
I’m willing to bet there won’t be an empty seat or a dry eye in the house.