Tuesday, January 11, 2011

some women lie about rape

For most of my life, I believed the only women who lied about rape were white racists; I was very young when I learned about the Springfield Race Riot of 1908 and the Scottsboro Boys. So, in 1987, when I heard about Tawana Brawley's rape allegations, I believed her. She was a young black woman who claimed she had been raped by white men; I was a liberal who opposed sexism and racism. The possibility that she was lying never occurred to me. I made all the traditional arguments, beginning with the classic "women almost never lie about rape."

But she was lying.

I learned my lesson then: The presumption of innocence means you should not assume the accused or the accuser is lying. Withhold judgment until you're sure all the facts are known.

Anyone who thinks the testimony of two women must be conclusive should read Who says women never lie about rape?:
'Thank goodness,' writes New York prosecutor Linda Fairstein in her book 'Sexual Violence,' '[the victim's] testimony -- when it is credible -- is all that is needed to convict a rapist, as it is any other criminal.'

But what is 'credible'? In 1996, Los Angeles police officer Harris Scott Mintz was accused of rape by two women who were said to be 'very credible': a woman in the neighborhood he patrolled, then his own wife. At a pretrial hearing, the judge pronounced that he had no doubt about Mintz's guilt. Then, Mrs. Mintz admitted that she made up the charge because she was angry at her husband for getting in trouble with the law; subsequently, Mintz's attorneys uncovered evidence that the first accuser had told an ex-roommate she had concocted the rape charge in order to sue the county, and that she had tried a similar hoax before. By the time the case collapsed, Mintz had spent five months in jail.
Finding examples of women lying about rape is surprisingly easy, and sometimes shocking:

Cops: Woman's lie about rape led to lover's beating, sodomy - Philly.com

Duke lacrosse case - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

DANMELL NDONYE: Hofstra Rape Accuser Dropped Claim After Hearing Of Video Recording

Tucker Carlson: Your biggest fan! - Salon.com

Biurny Peguero Gonzalez: Woman Who Lied About Rape Sentenced To 1-3 Years - Gothamist

Heidi Jones WABC: Heidi Jones Suspended From WABC After Fake Rape Allegations | Long Island Press

Tamara Anne Moonier - Gang Rape Was a Lie, O.C. Woman Concedes - Los Angeles Times

Mother of three jailed after making false gang rape claims - to win back her former lover | Mail Online

A number of blogs have been dedicated to the subject. Some of them are undoubtedly by bitter, sexist men, but the bigger question is whether they're right. Cry Rape - Beware Of These Liars seems to accurately collect mainstream accounts of false accusations of rape.

And there's always Wikipedia: False accusation of rape.

*ETA: I included the Kobe Bryant article because it's phrased as a question and includes relevant examples. When the case was dropped, Bryant made a statement: "Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did."