Sunday, February 11, 2007

What False Accusations Are, and What They Are Not.

“According to this debate so far, I am someone who would be described as a 'false accuser'. I was raped and the man who raped me was let off.” Women Against Rape, Letter to the BBC (Reference)

This woman seems to have fundamentally misunderstood the debate. Making a complaint of rape, and failing to secure a guilty verdict, does not make you a false accuser, any more than making a complaint of burglary, and failing to secure a conviction, makes you an insurance fraudster. If that were true, then most people who make complaints of burglary would be insurance fraudsters. In order to charge someone with insurance fraud, there has to be some evidence that fraud actually took place.


  • Most obviously, they have to actually have insurance. Not all house-holders do.
  • There has to be evidence that the burglary was staged. For example, if the broken glass is lying on the outside, then this strongly suggests that the window was broken from the inside.
  • There should be a lack of evidence that any third party was involved. No strange glove-marks or foot-prints, no witnesses, no description.
  • If they have financial problems, that will make the case against them more compelling in terms of providing a motive.
  • If they have a previous history of fraud, this also makes the case against them more compelling.

Being a fraudster is not simply a question of ‘not getting a conviction when you make a complaint’. The world is not as simple as that.

The same logic applies to false rape accusations. Making a complaint of rape, and failing to secure a guilty verdict, does not make you a false accuser. There has to be clear evidence that your allegation was fraudulent.

In the case of Warren Blackwell, it was obviously a false accusation.

  • Forensic tests showed that no rape had taken place. There was simply no evidence against either him or anyone else.
  • The police and CPS knew that his accuser, Shannon Taylor, had a history of making false accusations, a history of mental illness, and previous convictions for dishonesty.

These facts should have been decisive in themselves. However, the police and CPS pressed ahead with the case for political reasons. They need to secure rape convictions in order to please the feminist lobby-groups. Blackwell was convicted on the say-so of a known mad-woman, assisted by official malpractice, in the complete absence of any real evidence against him.

By continuing to defend false accusers like Taylor, feminist groups like Women Against Rape are showing their true colours. They are not motivated by logic or a desire for justice; they are motivated by political vested interest, hatred of men and screaming moral outrage.

I don’t expect them to have any regard at all for the human rights of falsely accused men, but the thing they should be concerned about is that false accusations harm genuine rape victims. They have completely failed to grasp this point. Or rather, it suits them to deny it for political reasons.

Groups like Women Against Rape are members of the camp which Katie Roiphe referred to as ‘Rape Crisis Feminists’. They regard rape as the paradigm case of relations between men and women. They see all heterosexual sex as rape, and all allegations of rape as true by definition. They have open contempt for the presumption of innocence which has been enshrined in the law for centuries.

If false accusers are punished for their actions, genuine rape victims have nothing to fear. Quite the reverse: Punishing false accusers is a measure designed to defend and reinforce the credibility of genuine rape victims.

We need to start taking a long hard look at the motivations of groups like Women Against Rape.

As Cathy Young wrote in her recent excellent article on the Duke case:
“It is often said that women who make false accusations of rape cause great harm to those who really are raped, making it harder for them to be believed. Victim advocates who champion fake victims hurt the real victims too, by depriving them of effective and credible advocacy. Maybe we need rape victim advocates who are not committed to ideological myths, and who are more interested in helping victims than in gender politics.”

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