Putting an end to false rape accusations


By Samantha Pulling

There has been a lot of speculation recently about the alleged gang rape of a woman, known only as Jackie, at University of Virginia’s chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, as published by Rolling Stone in November. Evidence against Jackie’s story surfaced shortly after the story was published, and police have recently stated that they cannot confirm Jackie’s account, therefore suspending the investigation.

In fact, no evidence has been found to support her case.

I am in no position to decide whether or not Jackie is telling the truth; that is for people smarter than me to determine. Still, I am hoping that evidence appears to support her claims. I would like to believe she would not make up a story about something as serious as sexual assault.

It is hard to imagine someone lying about sexual assault. Accusing someone of one of the most heinous and despicable crimes, knowing full-well that they did not commit, should be a crime itself.

But unfortunately, a false accusation just came to light within our own school’s bounds.

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On March 12, University students received a crime alert about an alleged sexual assault that occurred on Green Street. The woman said a man pinned her against a wall and groped her chest and crotch. However, during a second interview with police, she revealed her story was fabricated in order to “get back at her boyfriend.”

With April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is time for fake allegations to end now. Reporting sexual assault is rare among victims, with only 68 percent of rapes never reported to the police.

In an ideal world, there would never have to be a question about sexual assault. If someone says they were sexually assaulted, we should not have to wonder if they are lying. However, because of the few people who lie about being sexually assaulted, every victim that comes forward has to face the fear of being called “the one who cried rape.”

Because many victims who come forward are often scared that they will be accused of lying, fake stories can create a more intense fear. This produces a culture that pushes real victims farther away from reporting the crimes.

In fact, only 80 percent of women feel that they would be believed if they accused someone of rape. Along with that, only 66 percent of women and 49 percent of men believe that women should be presumed to be telling the truth after accusing a man of rape, according to research conducted by Cosmopolitan magazine and Esquire magazine.

The only thing that can increase our ability to believe sexual assault claims is to end false allegations.

While only an estimated two percent of sexual assault claims are false, that is two percent higher than it should be, and these false allegations can have tragic effects on everyone.

Being accused of rape or sexual assault can ruin the accused person’s life — especially during the duration of the investigation. Still, the real problem behind false claims is the effect they have on real victims of sexual assault. Victims should not be afraid of coming forward to police. They should not be worried that people will not believe them or that they will be ostracized. Yet, because of situations like these, real victims of sexual assault that report the incident are often met with intimidating interrogations and suspicion rather than an outpouring of support.

Sexual assault is too common to be an underrated issue or questioned issue. Between 20 and 25 percent of women are sexually assaulted while in college. This means, statistically speaking, 4,662 women on this campus will be victims during our four years here.

Despite these shocking statistics, only 63 percent of men and 80 percent of women still think that sexual assault is an “extremely/very serious” issue; 52 percent of men and 32 percent of women were surprised by the frequency of rape in women.

An overwhelming amount of people still do not think of sexual assault as a serious issue. False allegations can have serious repercussions on true victims by diminishing the crime. People are not going to take this issue seriously if the cases that the public hears about are the cases in which people are lying.

Stories of false allegations lead to doubts about victims’ stories. With so many rapes going unreported and even more not being prosecuted, we need all the support we can get for victims.

Samantha is a sophomore in Media.

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