False Rape Claims Taint The Jury Pool

Re-issue of discussion paper first released:  January 12, 2012

Discussion Paper:
Solving The False Rape Claim Bias of Jurists

Ask any prosecutor or judge what false rape claimants do to the process of Justice. False rape claimants taint jury pools and provide case law and public perceptions that damage the justice system and inevitably lead to brutal rapists going free.

Because sexual assault / rape cases tend to put the word of one person against the word of another with little corroborating evidence, they are hard to win–the conviction rate is low globally. The burden of proof is on the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime took place but when false rape claimants add their malfeasance to the case law books they add an argument of reasonable doubt, especially when the facts of the cases are similar. False rape claimants are likely the biggest contributors to rape culture, meanwhile 96 to 98% of all rape allegations are true.

 False claimants of rape to police and the courts also persistently open the door for the defence in rape cases to either find a motive or create a theory of a motive for the survivor-witness lying about a rape.

Prosecutors and Judges are frustrated by this. It’s one of the reasons the survivor-witness is placed under such scrutiny because the defence must zealously pursue a reasonable amount of doubt to sway the jury toward acquittal and the defence has case law of false rape claims.

It’s convenient that many men’s’ groups seek attention to the false rape-claim issue.

It’s disingenuous to say that false rape claims are a big threat to the average male. That is simply not statistically true. Nevertheless this is not a victimless crime. And not all false claimants get caught. It’s taking twenty to thirty years to discover falsely accused persons in prison because DNA testing or witness recants or both have exonerated a convicted person.  When this perjurous  type of crime occurs the survivor of the crime is seriously damaged and the trauma of this sort of crime can lead to an outcry disproportionate to the rate of the crime’s occurrence, understandable so. Don’t underestimate the impact of this crime which creates countless victims unknown even until years later, as many new criminal cases are put in jeopardy.RINJ Seeking Stiffer Sentences for Rapists

The false rape claimant is a problem to real victims. It’s about witness perjury in cases where witness credibility is everything. It only takes a shred of doubt to kill a case. That’s what many people don’t seem to understand. The case law of false claims creates fodder for defending the worst of rapists. It is a problem that is bigger than the rate of its occurrence.

That issue is a plague to prosecutors in all their rape cases because it is the basis for MOST reasonable doubt acquittals. The public and therefore jurists believe that many people lie about being raped and thus have bias. You don’t want jurists having a bias…

Let’s look at it. Regardless of how small the actual number may be, each case, and they all exist in the annals of justice forever, as case law, creates the basis for an argument of reasonable doubt in many other subsequent cases where there are arguably parallel circumstances such as extortion, blackmail, coercion or revenge. How do you assuage that among jurists? Create compelling impediments to false rape claims within the same regime as rape law such that if the jury is looking at a rape victim they must see a rape victim. Knowing that the penalty for bringing about a false claim of rape carries severe penalties like 15 years in jail, the jury knows that the witness would not likely take that risk just to get even with an ex-boy friend or whatever the defence concocts as a theory.

Examples of false rape claims are revenge, extortion or coercion and they are seldom punished in any significant manner. They need to be. Society needs to know that the penalty is so harsh for making a false rape allegation that thee is no damn way anyone in their right mind would do such a dangerous thing.

RINJ has advanced an argument for creating law to deal specifically with false allegations which will benefit our mission in ending rape.On the matter of false rape allegations, RINJ dot Org is trying to deal with that issue because there needs to be a prolific understanding around the world that all rape claims are to be taken seriously.

Let’s look at the USA first and the prompt complaint requirement, corroboration requirement, and cautionary instructions in the criminal law of rape.

These doctrines have greatly weakened in the formal criminal law of the fifty states and the District of Columbia because studies reveal that most victims of rape do not promptly complain to the police or other authorities, most rapes do not produce corroborating evidence, and most jurors are already cautioned by an underlying societal bias against those who claim rape.

RINJ seeks a shift away from the underlying societal biasagainst those who claim rape. We seek to do that using society’s own methods of crime/punishment in context.

Any bias of doubt about a  claim must be sheared off at the start because of RINJ’s proposed extreme penalties for giving false evidence of a rape crime that did not occur.

Did you know that 85% of all American contested family law (divorce and child custody battles) allege some kind of sexual wrong-doing yet upon investigation only 2% ever have any semblance of truth to them, yet none of these numerous false claims are ever prosecuted. This leaves society  with a strong bias that is unhelpful to real rape claimants.

Heretofore, most false sexual assault claims went unpunished and because it is so easy to make a false rape claim and the penalty so benign there have been many, causing genuine rape claims to not be prosecuted  on the balance of probability which is not the correct burden of proof for a criminal case in court and therefore should not be the basis for deciding carriage of the file.

RINJ seeks a shift away from this underlying societal bias against those who claim rape. We seek to do that using society’s own methods of crime/punishment.

RINJ is advancing that all rape claims be treated as bona fideno matter how extraordinary the statement of the victim/witness might be, it should be investigated properly and the witness given the benefit of any doubt under pain of perjury and pain of prosecution under a new statute.

The system tells jurors to weigh witness statements on their credibility and the fact that the witness is obligated to be truthful under the pain of   punishment for perjury. We say add to that a penalty commensurate with the crime of rape for making a false allegation of rape.

Enormous damages are done by making a false allegation of rape to the police, media, and the courts. One of the biggest damages is to the credibility of rape victims in the eyes of jurists. We all need to work together to fix that.

Our proposed method is just a start and one of many ideas but by bringing to the issue discussion of a new specialized statute to punish false rape claimants, we are putting pressure on the justice system in the Commonwealth of Free Nations and more importantly on society in general to trust rape victim-witnesses.

In family law the false sexual assault claim is used as a device of manipulation in far too many cases.

If a prosecutor deems a forcible rape claim to be false, then they must prosecute the false claimant, otherwise prosecute the rape. The U.S. military has at times asserted that as many as 45% of its rape allegations are false claims, not unfounded claims, but false claims. We seek a requirement to prove they are false or in the alternative, prosecute the rape.

The UK Court of Appeal in 2009 said false allegations damageconviction rates of genuine rapes and are “terrifying” for innocent victims.

The judges spoke out as they dismissed an appeal by a former nurse who was jailed for two years after falsely accusing a man she met online.

Jennifer Day, 35, made the claim against Andrew Saxby, who she met through a dating website, following a row in a case that cost £4,000 of taxpayers’ money and 270 police man hours.

She was jailed at Basildon Crown Court after being convicted of perverting the course of justice by making a false complaint of rape.

Dismissing her appeal against sentence, Mr Justice Henriques, sitting in London with Mrs Justice Rafferty, said: “False complaints of rape necessarily impact upon the minds of jurors trying rape cases.”

“Every time a defendant stands trial for rape, defence counsel necessarily point out to the jury that false allegations are made.

“Allegations such as this drive yet another nail into the conviction rate.”

He said the two-year sentence was “well-measured” and warned: “An immediate custodial sentence is inevitable when a false allegation of rape is made.”

It was an offence which “attacks the criminal justice system”.Scarce police resources were also diverted and innocent victims faced a “terrifying allegation”, he said.

Mr Justice Henriques read out the words of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, made in a previous ruling relating to a false rape claim.

Lord Judge, pointing out that such an allegation involved more than the individual victim, said: “Every false allegation of rape increases the plight of those women who have been victims of this dreadful crime.

“It makes the offence harder to prove and, rightly concerned to avoid the conviction of an innocent man, a jury may find itself unable to be sufficiently sure to return a guilty verdict.”

He said it was an offence which not only causes great problems for the victim, but also damages the administration of justice in general in “this extremely sensitive area”.

Question:  I would fear that if I could not prove my rape (conviction rates are low) than I would be prosecuted for false rape allegations. The fear of not being believed and the fear of harsh penalties for not being able to prove my real rape would keep me silent.

Good question. This  hypothetical falls pessimistically outside of current reality. The good news is that the victim doesn’t need to prove anything. That is not your burden. As a [hypothetical] rape victim your role is unfortunately from the outset a difficult one as there is a need to quickly report the crime and preserve DNA evidence. That means  doing nothing whatsoever but get yourself into the care of first-responders.

Forget urban legends that precede current-day technology.Forensics done quickly yield extensive data and extremely compelling evidence. Some of the recent case law where the victim has acted quickly because of a cell phone or electronic messaging of some sort have been extremely positive; unequivocal in fact, with excellent prosecutorial result.

Currently there is a  problem getting convictions in many cases where the report of the crime is made late and evidence collection is delayed  or denied. When rape victims report the crime late, there is seldom any corroborating evidence, and there is already a bias of society to disbelieve rape claimants because of a large number of apparently false allegations. These types of cases must be  a prosecutor’s nightmare. The pain and anguish of a trial wherein the case has no evidence but the testimony of a witness with tainted credibility because of a late report of the crime, may end in terrible disappointment.

You would fear this? But not being believed and criminal conspiracy to deceive the Court are two entirely different matters. In most countries the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed with criminal intent.

First and foremost, good, honest community members reportall crimes. Yes, you should always fear telling a lie to the judicial system. Don’t lie. Say what you know to be true. Some people would say you should always be wary of being involved in the judicial system, but in any case  always get professional legal advice once you have done your fiduciary duty of promptly reporting a crime.

Arguably there are maybe one billion sexual assault victimswalking the earth at this moment. The numbers are growing.

One by one, RINJ seeks elimination of impediments to ending rape. A part of the judiciary’s failure in rape crime has to do with false allegations and the difficulty in building a jury pool that does not have a skeptical bias.

In a substantial percentage of contested divorces there are claims of sexual misconduct. If a person lies to police or to civil court to say that their ex-spouse has committed a sexual assault upon them or their children of the marriage in order to manipulate the courts for custodial decisions; asset assignments; child support; for acrimonious reasons; or for any consideration, gain or benefit; the matter should be treated as a criminal offence. That is the nature of the statute that RINJ has advanced.

The RINJ Foundation

–      To exist for the benefit of the general public.
–      To help prevent rape and sexual assault crime.
–      To assist those who have become survivors of rape and sexual assault crime.

Sign Up As A Member of The RINJ Foundation