I had an interesting debate with a coworker today about people that lie about sexual assaults. Many agencies that educate the public about sexual assaults naturally will advocate that sexual assaults should never be labeled as false accusations. In fact, these same advocacy groups suggest that sexual assault are extremely underreported, and all should be taken seriously. On the other hand, there are people out there that will lie about rape because they want to revenge, redemption, or redirection. We both agreed that the key to sexual assault was consent. But in America, we have 5o states, and each state has its own definition of consent or how it’s defined. Consent will continue to become difficult to prove because of its one person’s word against another, and the criteria of consent have varying interpretations.
When we think about sexual assault, we may be drawn to an immediate violent crime where a person is raped by force leaving bruises or other injuries. But that way of thinking has shifted in the current definition of sexual assault by a multitude of interpretations to include touching a sexual organ or part. But watch any television show or passionate movie, and it is doubtful that the instantaneous sex scenes will ever demonstrate either person giving consent and sometimes play a role of sexual battery or questionable touching. I mention this scenario because many situations where people are involved in sexual roles are often similar to what we see on the big screen or television. Our conversation discussed if pop culture is somewhat responsible for not providing a benefit of educating the public about acceptable consent methods. If we mix in the ambiguous definitions of each state law, then the debate will continue for eons. Sure, no means no and we should respect that limitation. But in some cases, consent suddenly becomes a no that was never mentioned or insinuated.
People don’t typically lie about sexual assault. The subject in the question is that some do and the number appears to be growing. I am not suggesting or diminishing the numbers that sexual assaults don’t occur. But finding accurate numbers with regards to false reportings can be a challenge. It would require data such as lie detection or counterclaimed physical evidence. The data that most rape advocacy groups utilize is based on studies that were completed between 1974 to 1986 which lists false reportings at 2%. But if you seek data from 1983 to 2004 then the number of false claims jump to 57% or higher. This information is provided from a 2006 paper by Philip N.S. Rumney in the Cambridge Law Journal. It demonstrates that there is a plausible argument that people do lie about sexual assaults or rape which is a disturbing trend.
But why would anyone want to lie about sexual assault? Is it because they regret what they did and want to turn back the clock as if it didn’t occur? But why would sexual assault advocate groups and law enforcement lie or mislead courts, schools, and the public about data the clearly shows a pattern of false allegations? The topic is very sophisticated and ultra sensitive to grasp. People do lie on both sides and now is the time to introduce stiffer penalties for false police reporting and perjury in court. I fear that the future of sexual relations may be filled with smartphone recordings and sex tapes galore to reduce the burdens of rape accusations. The future of courtrooms juries will become a porn-like atmosphere where sex tapes will be viewed as evidence to either prosecute or reject a sex claim. Even with DNA forensics, the courts are filled with political agendas and elected prosecutors and judges. They too have an agenda to win cases to be reelected. We should place more emphasis on the truth and balanced investigation so that we are not revisiting an innocence panel twenty years from now and paying out outrageous sums because of shotty investigations, weak data, and emotional leverage inside the courtroom.
Perhaps it is safe to say we should return to a moral conscience society where we are careful not to place ourselves in situations where vulnerability could take place. Equally, there should be basic respect that individuals don’t benefit from a situation because the conditions are favorable. But we don’t live in a perfect world. However, we shouldn’t be adding to the imperfections to create falsehoods well after the fact. It’s one thing to have a credible case but another where the credibility is clouded and vague. Those that lie about sexual assault only hurt those victims of other sexual assaults and rapes. It makes our society suspicious and apprehensive especially in a time where adults should be reduced based on education and community information. But states should also take a moment to properly codify and streamline consent and federalize sex crimes so that education is improved and reduces the mixed definitions of assault.