Tuesday, April 5, 2016

False Rape Allegations

I have a longstanding habit. I find professionals in a field, feed them alcohol and then get them talking shop. I figure "En Vino Veritas" about what is going on behind the scenes. I did this with sex crimes investigators and their answers floored me. 
There is a claim by rape industry advocates that only 2% of all rape allegations are false. This low number is why we should always believe the accuser (Does that apply to your husband too Mrs. Clinton? Okay, that was wrong of me, but I'm weak). That 'low number' is also given as why we shouldn't be concerned about false allegations of rape.
Au contraire mon ami.
Anyway, I've tracked the official numbers of rape for decades via the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. As I say about that, “EVERYONE knows the numbers of the UCR are low.” But ‘how low” is the problem -- and believe me, that’s a big problem. See, the UCR is the ONLY available numbers that does not exclusively rely on the word 'estimated.’ (Yes they use it, but more of an ass covering device.) Why’s that important? Because usually when you see the estimated numbers four things happen. 
 1) The word ‘estimated’ appears once and immediately disappears 
 2) The ‘numbers’ go WAAAAAAY up 
3) Post disappearing act, whatever numbers are presented are set forth as unquestionable facts (it’s in that disappearing word) 
4) Nobody wants to show you how these estimated numbers were arrived at. (The files are confidential doncha know?) 
So why do I have such a big problem with such a petty detail? The list is long. Let’s start with I once did the math of 'estimated rapes' by a Denver Rape group and discovered that -- if these numbers were true -- to maintain them every woman in the city of Denver would be have to be raped on a repeating two year cycle. Half this year, half the next. Yes, the 'estimated' numbers amounted to over one quarter of the entire population. Don’t come to Denver, ladies. The Denver rape culture is totally out of control -- at least according to that source. 
Yet the 'official reported' number for Denver that year was around 250. It was those reported numbers sent to the UCR, not the rape crisis center’s. Do I believe that only 250 rapes occurred in Denver that year? No. Do I believe that one quarter of the population was raped that year? No, I don’t buy that either. As with so many things the truth is somewhere between those extremes. The UCR is much more transparent about how they get their findings. But since extreme numbers are good for funding . . .
Moving down the list, in ye olde days the FBI regularly reported that approximately 10% of all reported rapes were found to be 'without merit.' (Remember we’re talking yearly fluctuation). Now days, the standard numbers presented are between 6 and 8% are found to be meritless. Ten percent was before the lowering of proof and expanded definition of rape; but even after that we’re not down to the claim of only 2% of allegations are found to be false. 
Ummm, about the use of the term ‘false.’ Just so you know it’s not the same as meritless. Here is where you have to know what “meritless” (or without merit) means. Because there is one hell of a shell game going on here. But to do that, let’s first look at what USLegal.com says about the word merit: Merit is a term subject to various meanings, but in the legal context, merit refers to a claim which has a valid basis, setting forth sufficient facts from which the court could find a valid claim of deprivation of a legal right. http://definitions.uslegal.com/m/merit/
Got it? Valid basis, sufficient facts, etc.. One of the ways for a layman to look at this is there’s enough evidence that a crime has been committed that arrest, prosecution and conviction can occur.
However, from the same page: If the evidence defeats the claim, the claim is "meritless." 
This is not the same as a ‘not guilty’ verdict. “Not Guilty” is the result of trial. For it to go to trial there has to be a degree of merit. This is something different. Taking the same idea for layman, meritless (or without merit) is there is enough evidence to definitively state, it didn’t happen.
Case closed. Official stamp DONE on the file. The ‘State’ has moved on to something else now. (Like when the North Carolina Attorney General announced at a press conference the Duke Lacrosse Rape case was over and that the accused were innocent -- and then spelled the word to the Press.) In the legal system, it’s dismissed. In police investigation case closed. 
 I tell you this because simply stated, the difference between the evidence to prosecute and what it takes to declare an accusation without merit, is the difference between a hill and a mountain. But an even bigger difference between ‘false’ and the official status of ‘meritless.’
The supposed microscopic numbers of ‘false rape allegations’ are in fact, based on the accusations the police can definitively and officially say, “Didn’t happen.” That takes a LOT of evidence. That is why most cases are not officially closed. It’s a lot easier to clear an accused individual in the process of an investigation than it is to declare the entire case meritless. 
That sounds like legal argle bargle, but think about it this way. We can prove ‘he didn’t do it,’ (security video shows he was elsewhere), but we can’t prove someone else didn’t rape her. As such, many, many cases/accusations are left open -- supposedly still under investigation -- but nothing more is done on them. The investigating officer knows it’s BS, but doesn’t have the evidence to get it officially declared closed. 
Since, unless someone is selling something, there’s no such thing as a simple answer, let’s flip this coin over. Often the investigator can get the evidence to prosecute a rapist. (Yay!) But this same lack of evidence also applies when the cop knows the rat bastard did it -- except there just isn’t enough evidence to arrest and prosecute. So this same process is very much a double edged sword. There are monsters out there who know how to get away with this. As my mentor said “The real monsters slip through the system like smoke through a screen.” In these cases, that lack of evidence gnaws on cops guts -- often until the end of their careers, but damnit, there just isn’t enough evidence. 
Now there’s another category, that is something happened, but it’s not clear what. This can be understood as either someone is lying or everyone is. And if so, how much? These cases are a real mess. The evidence isn’t enough to go either way, so the case is left open. The investigator isn’t sure what is going on -- not just what happened but what else is going on -- because parts are missing. Want an example? Try investigating a rape at a drug house. An amoeba would starve on the amount of cooperation you’ll get. 
In case you missed it, I just described to you why so many rape cases aren’t prosecuted, but instead left open. This huge number ( and yes it’s way larger than either arrests/convictions or clearances) is the basis of the advocates claim that rape isn’t prosecuted hard enough and we need to do something about it. Generally the claim is about 85% of all rapists are never arrested or charged, (although I’ve seen it as high as 97%), 15 of 16 of them will never do prison time etc., etc.. These numbers are why ‘things must change’ Protect the victims! This injustice must stop! Rapists must be punished! Lower the standards of proof for more convictions!
There in lies the rub.
Remember the feeding the booze to professional sex crimes investigators? And by the way, I mean trained law enforcement here. Not advocates, not academics, not researchers, but cops with the weight of the legal system behind them and specialized training. I’ve asked six of them, from their personal experience what percentage of the cases they’ve worked on do they think were false -- but they couldn’t prove it to the point of meritless.
The numbers range between 30 and 50%.
Pick me up off the floor and wave smelling salts under my nose, because I just fainted. WHAT? You heard me. The divisions ran, two 30s, two 40s and two 50s. I can’t give you any more because of confidentiality, but I will tell you both of the 50s had special circumstances - one of which was a university in his jurisdiction. (Oh and BTW, I have personal experience with a family member losing a scholarship as the result of a false accusation on campus. SHE wasn’t even one of the ones having sex. That’s what got me thinking outside the box on this issue.)
In the assessment of motives, the investigators gave two primary causes for these accusations: 
1) Hell hath no fury ... 
2) Save your ass, by throwing someone else under the bus. 
A point of interest, the two 50s - being in different circumstances - put suspected motives in different orders. While trouble was the primary motive in both, what varied was if getting someone else into it (revenge) or getting oneself out of it by claiming rape. 
Now there’s something I should point out here. These numbers in no way, shape or form subtract from the legitimate cases of rape and sexual violence that routinely occur. Nor is it in any way meant to try to detract from the trauma and injury caused by rape or the need to sit down and try to figure out what to do about the problem of rape and victimization. Nor is it an attempt to deny that actual rape victims are further traumatized, by the fact that ours is an adversarial court system.
What it especially isn’t is a denial that in times past the courts were seriously stacked against the woman saying she was raped. But you know what? Under Sharia law the woman is automatically guilty in charges of rape. The standards it takes to convict a man of rape are impossibly high. If you believe that sort of system is screwed up, then it is screwed up -- no matter who is the protected class and who is automatically blamed. 
While we have to acknowledge that things used to be stacked against an American woman saying she was raped, we have a different problem. That is we have to be careful about people calling for a return to the bad old days - but with the pendulum swinging as far the other way. “So you men will know what it feels like!” (Yes, that is an actual quote; as well as a sentiment I’ve heard more than once.) Should we turn our legal system into a kangaroo court system where a woman claiming she was raped is enough to imprison someone? Should we just automatically assume the man’s guilt and -- out of fear of retraumatizing her --the only questions we ask the woman are so we can hang him?
The problems with this approach are obvious. What is not so obvious is the understanding that our legal system is a meatgrinder. That equality means you have a 50/50 chance of losing. That no matter who you are, the suck factor, unfairness and expense is high. Add that to the long list of things I don’t know what to do about.
Now I will tell you this New Sharia has gained ground on universities when it comes to Title IX tribunals. (Odd thing is the tribunals had a legitimate basis for violence against women on Indian Reservations, but it unwittingly [?] slopped over to universities. The reason for the [?] is the question, “Or was it unwitting?” But there was/is a big problem with violence on Reservations because of tribal sovereignty. ) I found once source that claimed under the Obama Administration sexual misconduct trials on campus have gone up by 3000% -- especially since the Office of Civil Rights (remember their involvement in the Rolling Stone Rape story?) sent out their “Dear Colleague” letter in 2011
 Here, this might explain that better and why F.I.R.E. is fixing to sue over that letter 
The decisions of these tribunals are more and more being overturned by the courts because they violate due process and the rights of the condemned. And yes, that word choice is intentional. I know of some campuses where rape victim advocacy groups are pushing that one of their members be appointed to all tribunals regarding sexual misconduct. In case you missed it, that’s like insisting a member of the Westboro Baptist Church be on a panel judging homosexuals.
Do I have an answer about how to nail the actual rapists but protect people from false accusations of rape? No I don’t. But I wrote this article, because there are too many people out there calling for changing our system to the point that the accusation of rape should be all that is needed. That the evil that is not punished to their satisfaction warrants the destruction of the lives of innocents. 
The cries of “97% of all rapists get away with it!” and “Only two percent of all rape allegations are found to be false!” make it seem like false allegations are such a small, insignificant number. Give up your right of due process and professional investigation to make it all right. After all the numbers are so small, we can afford to be occasionally wrong in the name of greater justice. 
Except a bunch of sex crime investigators with a drink or two under their belts tell a different story.

1 comment:

  1. I can't tell you, as a woman, how grateful I am that you are willing to write this. Not many, male or female, have the b*lls to talk about this. Thank you.

    I doubt you have been following the Ghomeshi trail in Canada - it was a very big deal up here - but the results and shocking testimony during cross-examination(including the sheer blatant lying and misrepresentation by the complainants) support your assertions - in spades.

    Well done you!