In the wake of the #MeToo movement and Kavanaugh hearings, men across the United States worried aloud about the impact of false claims of rape or sexual assault. What happens, they wondered, if everyone believes the women by default? How many men’s lives could be ruined?
The truth is most allegations of sexual assault are rooted in fact. The vast majority. It’s not even close. An article in the Minnesota Law Review noted that only two to eight percent of rape claims are false. It also pointed out that most rapes go unreported. As a result, the ratio of false reports is likely closer to .002% or .008% of all incidents. But in the rare case someone does stand falsely accused, the statistics don’t matter.
Four reasons that people lie about being raped
The fact that false rape allegations are rare doesn’t make them any less harmful to the people who stand accused. They may be statistically unlikely, but they’re hugely damaging. The few people who do face false accusations need to clear their names, and it may help to understand the type of people who make these false claims.
In 2017, The Quartz published one of the deepest explorations into the matter. According to the author, there are four main reasons people lie about being raped:
- They want to get something. Accusers can file civil or criminal charges. They may hope to claim money from civil charges. But the author noted that the accuser’s interests aren’t always monetary. Accusers might hope to avoid other consequences or manipulate people.
- They’re mentally ill. Some accusers may suffer from conditions that lead them to believe their accusations. Others may know they’re lying, but they suffer from an illness that compels them to lie anyway.
- They want revenge. Interestingly, accusers rarely seek revenge for getting dumped or suffering bad romances. Instead, they might react to any perceived offense. The author’s examples focused largely on people who felt they had been cheated out of things others owed them.
- They need an alibi. These accusers are often teens who got pregnant and want to hide their actions from their parents.
Finally, the article notes that people who make false accusations often have histories of lies and criminal activity. They tend to lie “big,” telling stories about aggravated assaults by strangers, rather than reporting rapes or assaults that leave any gray area.
Mounting a defense
Someone facing false accusations of rape or sexual assault could be looking at years in prison. At Kammen & Moudy, our attorneys understand the seriousness of these charges and the importance of questioning their accuracy. If the accuser is lying, our attorneys work tirelessly to present the full picture of the accuser’s history and motives.