“That we allow defense attorneys to obfuscate and eroticize rape trials as a way of distorting the truth to produce an unfair result only adds insult to injury.” I guess the accuser’s story is always “the truth” and giving consideration to the accused’s explanations–“the sex was consensual,” etc.–is just “indulging male entitlement over women’s freedom.”

From feminist Wendy Murphy’s letter In rape cases, it’s male sway over women’s freedom (Boston Globe, 11/16/08):

RE “RAPE cases underscore difficulty for investigators” by Maria Cramer (Metro, Nov. 9): There’s nothing inherently difficult about prosecuting rape. It is, in fact, the easiest and least expensive crime to investigate and prosecute. The victim takes the stand and says she was forced to have sex without her consent. If the jurors believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, they vote guilty. If not, they vote not guilty. All the silly excuses people come up with to justify the system’s failure to deal responsibly with rape allegations are thin cover for the truth: We’ve never valued women’s personal autonomy and bodily integrity enough, and we’ve always used the law as a way of indulging male entitlement over women’s freedom.

That we allow defense attorneys to obfuscate and eroticize rape trials as a way of distorting the truth to produce an unfair result only adds insult to injury. The cases highlighted in Cramer’s story emphasize that we are long overdue for reform laws that focus on the pervasive maltreatment of women in our legal system. We can start by calling rape what it is: a crime primarily caused by males against females; a civil rights violation that denies equal citizenship to an entire class of people. Understanding the true nature of the crime as a collective threat to all women is an important first step on a very long path to real justice.

I don’t doubt that there are despicable rapists who get away with it because of the protections our legal system affords the accused, but it is also true that a substantial # of rape accusations are false.

The common feminist assertion that “false allegations of sexual assault occur at the same rate as false allegations of other violent crimes, at just 2 percent of charges” has long been discredited.

This figure was made famous by feminist Susan Brownmiller in her 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. Brownmiller was relaying the alleged comments of a New York judge concerning the rate of false rape accusations in a New York City police precinct in 1974.

All “2%” claims trace back in one way or another to this claim. A 1997 Columbia Journalism Review analysis of rape statistics noted that the 2% statistic is often falsely attributed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and has no clear and credible study to support it.

The danger of rape is real, as is the danger that a rapist could do it and get away with it. Yet false accusations of rape are also a very real danger. In my column U. of Maryland Correct to Deny Clothesline Project Protesters a Forum to Publicly Name Alleged Rapists (Baltimore Sun, 10/15/07) I explained:

A significant percentage of allegations of sexual assault are false. According to a study conducted by former Purdue sociologist Eugene J. Kanin and published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, in more than 40 percent of the cases reviewed, the complainants eventually admitted that no rape had occurred. Mr. Kanin also studied rape allegations in two large Midwestern universities and found that 50 percent of the allegations were recanted by the accuser.

In 1985, the Air Force conducted a study of 556 rape accusations. More than one-quarter of the accusers admitted, either just before they took a lie detector test or after they had failed it, that no rape occurred. A further investigation by independent reviewers found that 60 percent of the original rape allegations were false.

Craig Silverman, a former Colorado prosecutor known for his zealous prosecution of rapists during his 16-year career, says that false rape accusations occur with “scary frequency.” As a regular commentator on the Kobe Bryant rape trial for Denver’s ABC affiliate, Mr. Silverman noted that “any honest veteran sex assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported crimes.” According to Mr. Silverman, a Denver sex-assault unit commander estimates that nearly half of all reported rape claims are false.

Listing cases of false rape allegations could fill volumes. One example: Six young men recently faced a potential life sentence in prison after Tamara Anne Moonier, a young Orange County, Calif., woman, accused them of kidnapping and raping her at gunpoint. The men are free today only because one of them taped the encounter, leading Ms. Moonier to admit she lied. The video showed Ms. Moonier actively directing the participants during the sexual encounter.

The politics of the Clothesline Project – which encourages women to see themselves and other women as victims and to rage at the patriarchy – can unintentionally encourage young women to make spurious accusations. For example, during the 2005 campuswide sexual assault awareness week at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., then-23-year-old Desiree Nall told police that she was raped by two men in a college bathroom. Fear and panic swept the campus as police initiated a manhunt for the rapists.

Police noticed many inconsistencies in Ms. Nall’s story, and one female police investigator stated that there was “no evidence to support the sexual battery complaint filed by Desiree Nall.” According to press reports, Ms. Nall, then the president of the Brevard County Chapter of the National Organization for Women, eventually told police that she was “not a victim of a sexual battery, as earlier reported in her sworn statements.”

One TV reporter said that many believed that Nall was ”trying to make a statement by calling attention to herself in a fake rape case.” Another reporter wondered, “Did she take her cause too far?” Feminists’ lack of concern over the harm caused by false rape allegations is evident in the fact that even today Nall remains in the leadership of Brevard County NOW.

Jessica Valenti, author of the book Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters, has criticized the university’s prohibition. She explains that for women, “There’s power in naming.”

She is correct; the protesters have a lot of power. They have the power to destroy an innocent young man’s reputation, college life and career. They have the power to imperil an innocent student’s safety by setting him up for vigilante retribution. It’s a power that should not be afforded.

Thanks to Kelly, a reader, for sending it.

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