Daily Devotion Daily Word - We Dare To Believe

Equally revealing were addenda following Kanin's basic report. They reported studies in two large Midwestern state universities which covered a three-year period ending in 1988. The finding of the combined studies was that among a total of 64 reported rapes exactly 50% were false. Kanin found these results significant because the women in the main report tended to gather in the lower socioeconomic levels, thus raising questions about correlations of false allegation with income and educational status. After checking figures gathered from university police departments, he therefore reported that "quite unexpectedly then, we find that these university women, when filing a rape complaint, were as likely to file a false as a valid charge." In addition, Kanin cited still another source (Jay, 1991) which supported findings of high frequency false allegations in the universities. On the basis of these studies, Kanin felt it reasonable to conclude that "false rape accusations are not uncommon" (p.90).

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The McDowell team studied 556 rape allegations. Of that total, 256 could not be conclusively verified as rape. That left 300 authenticated cases of which 220 were judged to be truthful and 80, or , were judged as false. In his report Charles McDowell stated that extra rigor was applied to the investigation of potentially false allegations. To be considered false one or more of the following criteria had to be met: the victim unequivocally admitted to false allegation, indicated deception in a polygraph test, and provided a plausible recantation. Even by these strict standards, slightly more than one out of four rape charges were judged to be false.

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Although useful, the F.B.I. and DNA data on sex crimes result from unstructured number gathering. More informative, therefore, are the results of a focused study of the false allegation question undertaken by a team headed by Charles P McDowell (McDowell & Hibler, 1985) of the U.S. Air Force Special Studies Division. Its significance derives not only from its scholarly credentials but also its time of origin, 1984/85, a period during which rape had emerged as a major issue, but before its definition included almost any form of non-consensual sex.

You can look at a chair and believe it is made of materials strong enough to support your weight, and you can believe that it was assembled correctly.
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In The Morning After, Katie Roiphe (1993) reported still another cause of false allegations: political passions generated by activities such as the "Take Back the Night" marches. She tells about "Mindy" who so wanted to be a "part of this blanket warmth, this woman-centered nonhierarchical empowered notion" that she was "willing to lie" (pp. 40-41). A similar story was told by a Stanford University professor whose daughter was, he claimed, behind a conspiracy to murder him. He testified that he had had a good relationship with her until she attended an anti-rape rally. "She appeared to have gotten swept up ... and was experiencing great emotional distress" (Wykes, 1993).

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Believing the self-proclaimed victim of sexual misconduct has thus evolved from ideological conviction to legal doctrine and, in some jurisdictions, into law. California now requires that jurors be explicitly told that a rape conviction can be based on the accuser's testimony alone, without corroboration (Associated Press, 1992; Farrell, 1993). Canada is proposing that a man accused of rape must demonstrate that he received the willing consent of a sexual partner.

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These mitigating circumstances have often softened the judgment of authorities who confront women guilty of misrepresentation. In the Washington D.C. area, for example, police send women who lied about rape not to the court room but to a counseling center. The Princeton woman who accused a fellow student suffered no more than an obligation to write a public apology. Because of these sometimes compelling reasons for a departure from the truth, many officials hesitate to call a woman a liar.