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Thursday, December 09, 2004

50% of rape accusations false?

Instapundit links to a CrimeProfs post that suggests there is not much evidence available about the incidence of false rape allegations. That isn't quite right. Warren Farrell, in his book The Myth of Male Power (1993, p.322), cites an Air Force study that investigated 556 charges of rape by servicewomen. In that investigation, 27% ADMITTED that their accusations had been false either before or after being confronted with lie detector tests. After investigators looked into the cases where women did not admit to have made false accusations, they came to the conclusion that a full 61% of all the accusations were probably false.

Farrell cites "False Allegations," Forensic Science Digest, V. 11, no. 4, Dec. 1985, p. 64, by Charles P. McDowell. He says the Digest is a publication of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in D.C.. It does not seem to be available online. Maybe someone with access to this journal can post a scan or photo of it.

One of the commenters on the CrimeProfs post claims to have been involved with such an Air Force study and he backs up the results.

Other studies have also found very substantial percentages of rape accusations to be false. See Research Shows False Accusations of Rape Common, by Glenn Sacks. Also, SOME FACTS ABOUT RAPE AND FALSE ACCUSATION OF RAPE, by Hugh Nations.

Farrell's book compiles a huge amount of information on the full range of feminist issues. A great resource.

UPDATE: The above mentioned CrimeProfs commentor (David, who has his own blog) says that I misinterpretted his comment. He did not actually work on the McDowell study, but says that in his experience as an Air Force investigator, a substantial fraction of rape charges turned up false, maybe 20-30% (he didn't keep statistics). A second commentor at CrimeProfs was also an Air Force investigator and he offers the same rough 20-30% recollection.

Comments:
As the "commenter" you mention in this post, I must point out that you are in error when you state "One of the commenters on the CrimeProfs post claims to have been involved with such an Air Force study and he backs up the results."

I did not say I was involved in the study. Nor was I in any way.

What I said was that based on my personal experience as an investigator with AFOSI in the 1980s, I remembered that between 20% and 30% of the rape allegations I investigated or helped investigate were proven to be false. It was a long time ago, and I wasn't keeping statistics on it even then. But if my anecdotal experience "backs up" the study then I am fine with that.

I do know of the study and I did know of Charles P. McDowell's work on rape investigations, but that is the extent of my involvement.

Thanks for your interest in this important issue though.
 
Alex,

Thank you so much for correcting your comment. I appreciate it. I am sorry my poorly worded post caused the misunderstanding in the first place.

Regards,

David
 
I meant "Alec" . . . is there no end to the number of mistakes I am making this week?

Apologies,

David
 
Interesting post -it raises a lot more questions than it answers.

It occurs to me that a "recanted" rape charge is not quite the same as saying that "no rape occurred" or that such charges thereby are "false accusations." As with spouse abuse cases, people involved in some relationships may, in fact, have be victims of a variety of personal assaults but for reasons known to them (and probably well documented in other locations) withdraw their charges and refuse to participate in prosecution. Even the 27% of the Air Force servicewomen who "admitted" that their accusations were false "before or after" lie detector tests may have some number who had legitimate charges but decided not to pursue them.

That's not to say that every such withdrawn charge had merit. But it seems to me that this is one factor that makes any statistics in this area pretty hard to trust.
 
Here are my thoughts on the subject:

I know and am comfortable that a percentage of reported rapes are false. That being said, I think we have to understand the intimidation factor of a female in the military. The sentance "After investigators looked into the cases where women did not admit to have made false accusations, they came to the conclusion that a full 61% of all the accusations were probably false." raises my radar highley.
"they came to the conclusion"Why did they come to that conclusion? None of us want to believe the horrors that humans are capable of inflicting on other humans.
I also know it to be true that a very large percentage of females who have been raped never report it. So that alone would bring the percentage back down to maybe a more resonable percentage of somewhere around 25% maybe even less.
 
"So that alone would bring the percentage back down to maybe a more resonable percentage of somewhere around 25% maybe even less."

Which COMPLETELY misses the point.

Suppose it was drunk driving, and half of all convictions were against tea-totallers. Would you say, "Well, I'm sure other people drive drunk and weren't caught, so that's okay."?

The point of the study is that when women DO cry "rape", over HALF of the time it is a LIE. (Your observation could be interpreted as, "Isn't it interesting that they are willing to LIE about rape more often than they are willing to report its actual occurence... but I'll leave that for another day.)

BTW, how did they "come to the conclusion"???

This is how:

"Dr. Charles McDowell, formerly of the US Air Force's Office of Special Investigations, discovered that 27% of Air Force women who claimed they had been raped later admitted making false accusations of rape. The admission usually came when they were asked to take a lie detector test. With these admitted false accusations he was able to develop 35 criteria distinguishing false accusations and those known to be genuine. Three independent judges then examined the remainder of the cases. Only if all three reviewers independently concluded the original rape allegations were false did they rank them as "false." The total of false allegations became 65%. "

I'd say that's a pretty fair process.

I also say, it's about time someone called women on the "rape" card.
 
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