Wednesday, October 03, 2018

More on false accusations

In a previous post, I commented on why false accusations are indeed a big deal--they are most likely as frequent, or more frequent, than incarcerations for sexual assault.  Now part of that is due to ignorance on the part of prosecutors, as well as bad tactics on the part of supposed supporters of victims, but let's take a look at the overall numbers and what they mean.

The best statistics we have regarding self-reporting (e.g. to researchers, not police) is that about 25% of women--say about 500,000 to 600,000 annually--report some level of sexual assault.  Allowing for repeat sexual assaults, and we might infer that about a million sexual assaults are committed each year, of which 310,000 might be reported to police. 

Of those, 2-10%--or 6-31,000--are false reports.  If we were to "lowball" the estimates and say only 500,000 sexual assaults occur annually, you might expand that range to 3-31,000.  Yes, it's a wide range, but for obvious reasons, these statistics are messy.

We would infer that up to 3-31,000 people, mostly men, are the victims of false reporting each year; somewhere between one in sixty and one in six hundred men have been falsely accused of sexual assault.  If we assume that a portion of "insufficient evidence to indict" is also false accusations, and we should, that number rises.

And let's put this in perspective; a man who is convicted and sent to prison disappears for years--he is incognito to his peers at that point, really.  However, the man who is falsely accused--the one who loses his reputation, maybe his job and key relationships, and the funds in his bank account dealing with the false accusation--interacts with his peers every day.  For each falsely accused man, dozens learn of his story.  Let's draw a wild guess and guess that about one in twenty prospective jurors knows for a fact that false accusations are made, and can name a case where clearly false accusations were not punished with a perjury prosecution.

Do you think it will affect whether they will believe accusers?  I'm guessing it will, and on any particular jury, the odds might be around 50% that at least one juror knows someone who was victimized by a perjurer.

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