Guilty Unless Proven Innocent: The Scourge of False Allegations
Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com
Created 24 April 2009, Updated 18 Oct 2023
“Hell no, I ain’t worried. I didn’t do this. You can’t convict me of something I didn’t do.” – John Stoll, one of the accused in the Bakersfield day care scandal
The year I first wrote this article was a banner year for exposing false allegations based on moral panics from the 1980s. On Sunday, April 12, 2009, MSNBC premiered the documentary “Witch Hunt,” which told the story of the infamous Bakersfield day care abuse panic, which led to the false convictions of dozens of innocent people in the small town of Bakersfield, California during the early 1980s. The Bakersfield hysteria spread throughout the United States and other English-speaking nations during the 1980s and early 1990s. It could be argued that the current spate of sex offender laws find their origins in this social panic. In the nearly thirty years since the first of the Bakersfield cases were tried, the social panic surrounding sex crimes and offenders remains at a high level.
Another false allegation from the era of Satanic Panics would be featured in two documentaries within months of each other in 2022. On Feb. 5, 1985, 68-year-old grandmother Helen Wilson was brutally raped and murdered in her one-bedroom apartment in Beatrice, Nebraska. Six individuals were ultimately charged with the crime, primarily through false confessions, and served decades behind bars. In 2005, an appellate attorney convinced the Gage County Prosecutor’s Office to use new DNA evidence to test the evidence, which ultimately exonerated the “Beatrice Six” and connected the crime to a person who was previously suspected but passed over as a suspect. Gage County, with a population of about 21,700 residents, paid off a nearly $31 million settlement over the false imprisonments through property tax dollars, insurance settlement money, a $4 million state aid allocation and a special half-cent sales tax allowed by state law between 2019 and 2023.
There have been a couple of major moral panics that have followed, including the campus rape awareness movement, the #MeToo movement, and the ongoing moral panic surrounding human trafficking. Many high profile people were accused of sexual assault, and some were “canceled” (i.e., they lost high-profile jobs) or even convicted of crimes (Bill Cosby). Some people endured the allegations with little to no consequences but are ridiculed to this day and held with suspicion (Brett Kavanaugh).
However, false allegations were also tied to these high-profile moral panics. Here are just a few examples that are worth noting:
Campus Rape Panic: In 2013, Columbia University student Paul Nungesser was falsely accused of raping fellow student Emma Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz alleged that consenting intercourse between them had turned violent, and Nungesser anally raped her. Both the local police and an internal investigation by Columbia University exonerated Nungesser. In response, Sulkowicz began carrying a mattress around campus as protest art she called “Carry That Weight.” Sulkowicz gained media publicity and she became known as “The Mattress Girl.” Feminist groups gave Sulkowicz awards and she was profiled in major media outlets like New York Magazine. Sulkowicz even carried the mattress onstage for her graduation. Skeptics had pointed out that Sulkowicz had sent ‘flirtatious messages” to Nungesser after the alleged rape. Nungesser experienced harassment; he sued Columbia University and settled out-of-court in 2017.
#MeToo Panic: For the sake of those who are do not understand Internet trends, some social media outlets use the # sign, known by older folks as the “pound” sign but known to younger generations as a “hashtag,” at the beginning of a word or phrase to make it easier for others to follow a specific topic. The false premise behind what is known as the “#MeToo” Movement is that people who make sexual abuse allegations are rarely believed, and others who claimed they were never believed connected their personal tales with the #MeToo moniker. Perhaps the most prominent figure involving a questionable claim tied to #MeToo is Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Years after Kavanaugh was elected to the US Supreme Court, news reports continue to speculate that Kavanaugh benefitted from a political cover-up.
Sex Trafficking Panic: On July 13, 2023, Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell called police claiming she found a missing toddler walking along a highway. Russell went missing then returned home 48 hours later. Police investigating the kidnapping found Russell’s cover story suspicious. They later discovered Russell had conducted web searches which included, “Do you have to pay for an Amber Alert?”, “How to take money from a register without being caught”, bus tickets from Birmingham to Nashville, and the movie “Taken.” Russell was eventually charged with making false reports, and was found guilty in October 2023. It was noted that Russell faced up to a year in jail and $18,000 in restitution fees.
The Carlee Russell case came at a time where child kidnapping and sex trafficking fears were reaching new heights. Only weeks before the Carlee Russell saga began, the movie “The Sound of Freedom,” a movie based on the life of Tim Ballard, founder of the child-rescue group “Operation Underground Railroad,” had appeared in theaters. However, The Sound of Freedom and Tim Ballard experienced a number of controversies, including organizations buying up tickets to artificially inflate box office numbers, and accusations that Ballard lied about (or at least embellished) the stories he has told to inflate the importance of his organization.
Part of the problem with addressing false allegations is the tendency for society to lionize accusers and demonize the accused. As noted by Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist at the London South Bank University, those who report sexual abuse are frequently referred to as victims from the start. In 2016, London’s Metropolitan police force was criticized for adopting a policy stating that anyone who made a sexual-abuse allegation would automatically be believed. Shaw told Wired, “Inquiries into historic sexual abuse also refer to people as survivors…Referring to people as victims when you’re not sure victimization has taken place has huge potential to influence the legal process.”
Our culture has cast all men in particular as potential sexual predators, and as a consequence, a growing number of men are fearful of children. As one man put it, “being a man, I’m guilty until proven innocent.” The news media releases many stories yearly of individuals who have served years or even decades in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. This begs the question: just how prevalent are false allegations in our hysteria-driven society?
FALSE ALLEGATION STUDIES
One critical study on false rape allegations found 41% (190) of rape allegations made over a 9 year period in one metropolitan area were indeed false allegations. “These false allegations appear to serve three major functions for the complainants: providing an alibi, seeking revenge, and obtaining sympathy and attention.” This study also noted possible reasons for false rape allegations: “False rape allegations are not the consequence of a gender-linked aberration, as frequently claimed, but reflect impulsive and desperate efforts to cope with personal and social stress situations… Other factors that are typically responsible for unfounded declarations are victim’s late reporting to the police, lack of corroborating evidence, lack of cooperation by the victim and/or witnesses, reporting in the wrong jurisdiction, discrepancies in the victim’s story, wrong address given by the victim, victim’s drunkenness, victim’s drug usage, victim’s being thought a prostitute, victim’s uncertainty of events, victim’s belligerence.” Granted, this is only one study, but one that remains relevant in a culture that believes an accusation is the same as a conviction.
Many more studies have focused on the possibility of false child sexual abuse allegations. An annotated list of studies at the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal violence lists numerous reports on the number of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) cases found to be false. Below is the false CSA allegation stats from the studies listed at the aforementioned website:
- Bala, Schuman: 45 of 150 (30%)
- Benedek, Schetky: 10 of 18 (55%)
- Brown, Hewitt, Sheehan: 9% of 200
- Faller: 15%-25% false
- Green: 36%
- Jones, McGraw: 7%
- Jones, Seig: 4 of 20 (20%)
- McGraw, Smith: 3 of 18 (16.5%), 1 from child
- Thoennes, Tjadea: 33% of 129 cases 
Some studies found no significant difference in allegations arising from custody disputes. As one researcher put it, “It is the author’s experience that while malingered symptoms of dysfunction are not uncommon among young people in personal injury claims, they are not at all common in cases of alleged abuse. That is, young people do not frequently fabricate symptoms that may be understood by psychologists to be signs that they may have been subject to abuse.” Yet this same researcher recognized that, “While general studies of child sexual abuse cases do not indicate high levels of false accusations or of child coaching, false allegations of any type of abuse or neglect are higher in situations where parents separate, where studies have shown them to be three times higher than in other cases. The more acrimonious the context, the more this proportion is likely to escalate.”
But a 2005 study found the percentage of false allegations rose from 4% to 12% when custody disputes are involved and argues the possibility of malicious prosecutions in custody disputes should not be ruled out of the realm of possibilities.
The rise of DNA testing has exposed higher levels of false convictions than touted by feminists. “Among cases where physical evidence produced a DNA profile of known origin, 12.6 percent of the cases had DNA evidence that would support a claim of wrongful conviction.”
Study results have varied greatly for a variety of reasons, including “differences in how studies define false reports (if they do), their samples and methodologies, and the inherent challenges in separating fact from fiction in many sexual assault cases.” Reliance on police reports underestimates false reports because International Association of Chiefs of Police states that, “The determination that a report of sexual assault is false can be made only if the evidence establishes that no crime was committed or attempted. This determination can be made only after a thorough investigation. This should not be confused with an investigation that fails to prove a sexual assault occurred. In that case, the investigation would be labelled unsubstantiated.” In other words, police only consider a report false IF they have proven the report to be false.
Statistics on false allegations may include allegation of sexual assault when the complainant was affected by alcohol, drugs, or poor mental health; lack of awareness of the law (and so alleged an offense when the actions complained of were legal); mistaken identity cases; or false reports made by third parties such as family or friends of the alleged victim.
MAJOR PLAYERS IN MINIMIZING FALSE ALLEGATIONS
“I never, ever met a false rape claim, by the way. My own statistics speak to the truth.” – Wendy Murphy, in an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room”
Feminist ideology has been a leading cause of misinformation. As explained by Australian activist Bettina Arndt, “The myth that women hardly ever lie is a central plank of the feminist mythology about sexual assault which now underpins our justice system. That makes it absolutely vital for feminists to maintain the fallacy that false allegations are statistically extremely rare. Boy, have they done a great job in promoting that mistruth.”
Writer Cathy Young notes that, “In challenging the old rape myths, the feminist movement has created a set of new ones. For instance, as contrarian feminist Wendy Kaminer wrote in a 1993 essay, ‘It is a primary article of faith among many feminists that women don’t lie about rape, ever; they lack the dishonesty gene.’ On a somewhat less extreme note, much feminist literature, including ‘rape myth’ explainers, assert that only 2 percent of rape reports are false, same as for any other crime. As Massachusetts-based attorney Edward Greer demonstrated in an exhaustive analysis in 2000, this claim has no basis in fact and appears to be a ‘fictoid’ circulating among various ideologically aligned sources. A more modest assertion is that 2 to 8 percent of rape reports are false. But even this claim is based on fuzzy data and rooted in an almost literal presumption of guilt: the belief that in every case in which the truth or falsehood of the accusation cannot be established with full certainty, the accused — even if tried acquitted in court — is guilty.”
A central theme in feminist ideology is the myth of “rape culture.” The term was brought to prominence in the mid-1970s, particularly through a1975 short film called “Rape Culture.” The feminists of the time did not attribute rape to the decisions of a solitary actor; instead, rape is a “pervasive cultural problem” associated with “the patriarchy.” Cathy Young notes, “As for 21st Century civilization, arguments intended to demonstrate a pervasive rape culture in modern Western societies typically rely on dubious assertions and badly distorted or out-of-context facts.” The example used was using the term “rape” in the context of describing a sports team losing badly.
The “rape culture myth is highly damaging to the basic principles of fairness to the accused, since these principles themselves — such as according the accused the presumption of innocence instead of ‘believing the survivor,’ or using the accuser’s conduct to assess her credibility or her consent — are viewed as a part of ‘rape culture.’” And even when a person is exonerated, many continue to believe the unsubstantiated allegations.
The phrase “Believe Women” was used as a rallying cry used by feminists advancing the #MeToo Movement. But in the constant state of sexual moral panic, it morphed into “Believe ALL Women,” as if to say that women would never lie about sexual assault. A 2017 New York Times editorial applauded the efforts of #MeToo, but opined, “In a climate in which sexual mores are transforming so rapidly, many men are asking: If I were wrongly accused, who would believe me? I know the answer that many women would give — are giving — is: Good. Be scared. We have been scared for forever. It’s your turn for some sleepless nights. They’ll say: If some innocent men go down in the effort to tear down the patriarchy, so be it.”
On November 21, 2017, Emily Lindin, a columnist at Teen Vogue, Tweeted, “Lindin wrote: “Here’s an unpopular opinion: I’m actually not at all concerned about innocent men losing their jobs over false sexual assault/harassment allegations.” When the backlash ensued, the writer tried to justify her position, writing “false allegations VERY rarely happen, so even bringing it up borders on a derailment tactic. It’s a microscopic risk in comparison to the issue at hand (worldwide, systemic oppression of half the population).” Lindin then declared: “The benefit of all of us getting to finally tell the truth + the impact on victims FAR outweigh the loss of any one man’s reputation,” and added, “If some innocent men’s reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay.”
The media still relies primarily on private victim advocacy groups as a source for statistics, which in turn skews public perceptions of the prevalence of false allegations. For example, CNN reported in 2018 that, “the prevalence of false reporting on sexual assault is between 2% and 10%, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center”; citing the same organization, CNN added, “Research shows that rates of false reporting are frequently inflated, in part because of inconsistent definitions and protocols.”
Despite the official-sounding name, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center is not a government agency; it is a small non-profit organization headquartered in Pennsylvania. But studies on false allegations are similar to claims of underreporting of sexual offenses in the sense neither can be definitively proven or disproven. As noted by a 2023 report written by Gander Research, “Given that sexual assaults often have few if any witnesses, scant or ambiguous evidence and can come down to ‘her word versus his’… many false reports will not be counted as such.” Even studies Gander considered “high quality still suffer deficiencies in “the way they classify cases as false, which leaves out many false and potentially false reports. Incomplete or poor-quality data, poor interview response rates and mathematical shortcomings also weaken some of the studies.” Gander ultimately arrives at a conclusion that, “It is doubtful that any study, largely regardless of how well it was resourced and conducted, could tightly estimate the prevalence rate.”
Since there is simply no way to prove or disprove an unknown factor, victim advocates can decide to conjure a number out of thin air, then rely on appeals to authority (namely, themselves) as evidence their statistics are valid.
Victim advocacy groups can negatively influence public policy. For example, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center worked together with the Urban Institute and Uber (the ride-share company) to create improved ways of categorizing reports of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault that happen at work. The “Simple Justice” blog reported that, “Included in the classification of ‘sexual violence at work’ was the category, ‘staring or leering.’ It’s now official; ‘stare rape’ is sexual violence, as is flirting, asking personal questions and the attempted touching of a non-sexual body part, such as, I guess, hand-shaking. Not only will this be sufficient cause for termination, if not public castigation, but it will be included in an empirical analysis of the prevalence of sexual violence….Is it a crime to stare? What constitutes a stare from a look, or a leer? Many such offenses are popularly defined by the sensibilities of the victim, whether it made her feel uncomfortable, but this provides no clue to the ‘perpetrator’ of stare rape that he’s looked beyond the point of acceptability to that particular ‘survivor’ and should have averted his eyes.”
Victim advocacy groups can add bias to their reporting. In 2019, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) was reporting that 3 out of every 4 sexual assaults are not reported, and out of every 1,000 rapes only five perpetrators are convicted. RAINN has a financial incentive to push such scary statistics. RAINN’s revenue increased from $18.5 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 to $23.7 million in FY 2021, with nearly $28 million in net assets for FY 2021. Scott Berkowitz, President of RAINN, was paid about $504k, and other top officials making between $157k and $208k, with supplemental compensation. Of the $11.9 million that went to salaries in FY 2021, nearly 10% went to the top six board members. Predator Panic is a very lucrative business.
An organization that profits from scaring the masses should be held to strict scrutiny, but few dare question the simple statistics offered up by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. RAINN cames to the conclusion in their 2019 chart that 995 out of 1000 rapists “walking free” by breaking down cases as follows:
- Of 1000 rapes, only 230 are reported to police
- Of 230 reports, 46 lead to arrest
- Of 46 arrests, 9 are referred to prosecutors
- Of 9 prosecutions, 5 lead to a felony conviction
- Of the 5 convictions, 4.6 will go to prison
- Therefore, 995 (or I suppose to be more precise, 995.4) will “go free”
The claim that only 230 of 1000 (23%) rapes are reported to the police is based from the National Crime Victimization Surveys (NCVS). The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network claims that these numbers came from the years 2010-2016. But the NCVS stats have fluctuated between 50% and 76.8% in the years of 2010 to 2016, so they did not use an average of six years, they picked the one year out of six that had the highest number and ran with it.
But the National Crime Victimization Surveys have been misrepresented by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. The NCVS covers combines sexual assaults, rapes, AND ATTEMPTS. Sexual assault is defined as “A wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling. Sexual assault also includes verbal threats.” Rape is defined as “Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion and physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by the offender(s). This category also includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object, such as a bottle. Includes attempted rape, male and female victims, and both heterosexual and same sex rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.” Because the definition of attempt is not adequately defined by the NCVS, it is open to interpretation.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network does admit that “scope and impact of sexual violence are difficult to measure.” RAINN claims they consider “a number of factors before including a statistic on our site, such as the credibility of the study’s sponsor; the sample size of the study; the questionnaire design; and other methodological elements.” RAINN also admits that the NCVS sample size is small and that every study trying to study the amount of unreported cases will have different conclusions. Thus, RAINN admits they “supplement NCVS data with statistics from other credible studies from the FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and other government and academic sources.”
And just how small a number are the National Crime Victimization results? As stated in the 2010 NCVS report, “While the change in the rape or sexual assault rate from 2009 to 2010 is significantly different at the 90%-confidence level, care should be taken in interpreting this change because the estimates of rape/sexual assault are based on a small number of cases reported to the survey. Therefore, small absolute changes and fluctuations in the rates of victimization can result in large year-to-year percentage change estimates. For 2010, the estimate of rape or sexual assault is based on 57 unweighted cases compared to 36 unweighted cases in 2009. The measurement of rape or sexual assault represents one of the most serious challenges in the field of victimization research. Rape and sexual assault remain sensitive subjects that are difficult to ask about in the survey context.” That is 57 cases out of 40,974 households and 73,283 individuals age 12 and older were interviewed for the NCVS.
It appears that the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network merely assumes the NCVS stats are good enough to base their estimates from without considering the shortcomings of the report. If a report was never made, how do we know whether or not an event warranted a criminal investigation? That is, how do we know that an event a person claimed took place actually happened, and if it did, was the action a criminal offense? Also, if these numbers are not purely scientific, but mere estimations, why present it as settled fact? Almost no one reads the fine print. Almost no one is going to click onto a different page to read how these stats are interpreted by RAINN or by their original sources, and even if they did, most understand it. Instead, RAINN misleads people, whether intentional or not. (I believe it is intentional.) After all, RAINN teaches this in the form of a meme, and memes don’t cover the details.
In December 2012, a graphic had been created showing 1000 stick figures under the title “rapists”; 70 of those were colored differently under the label “reported”; 20 of those were colored darker under the label “faced trial”; ten were colored red under the label “jailed”; two figures on an opposite corner were colored black under the label “falsely accused.” This graphic, created by an organization called The Enliven Project, grossly misrepresented false allegations as being extremely rare (2 out of 1000 “rapists” is 0.2%). The Washington Post had fact-checked the graphic and found numerous issues, such as erroneously assuming all unreported cases are indeed “rapes”, and concluded:
“…for a graphic titled ‘the truth about false accusation,’ it is quite misleading, and incorrect in many aspects. It’s a pretty graphic, but pretty does not mean accurate; it should serve as a cautionary tale to those in the public prone to retweets or reposts of attractive graphics. In many cases, when faced with a range of figures, Beaulieu put her finger on the scale by choosing the number that grabbed as much attention as possible, such as choosing two for false reports rather than 10.”
“While Beaulieu said she wanted to have a conversation-starter, in the end her graphic is so confusing and misleading that it potentially sends the conversation into a dead end. The conversation needs to start with accurate facts, and Beaulieu had a responsibility to correct the graphic when her errors were first highlighted two years ago, rather than bury them in a difficult-to-find blog post. Thus the Enliven Project earns Three Pinocchios.” The Enliven Project was later retooled as “The Uncomfortable Conversation,” and Sarah Beaulieu (now Pierson) and continues to boast of her creation.
Interestingly, the Enliven Project graphic reached peak exposure in response to allegations that a woman known only as “Jackie” claimed she was raped at a fraternity party on the campus of the University of Virginia in September 2012. Rolling Stone heard a story about an unreported gang-rape from a campus feminist, and, after interviewing Jackie, published “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” on Nov. 19, 2014.
It was later discovered the entire rape claim was part of an elaborate hoax that was created, in part, to get a classmate to like her. Despite definitive proof the case was a hoax, the Washington Post never gave Jackie’s name, adding, “The Washington Post generally does not identify people who are purported victims of sex crimes.” Paul Farhi would write an article questioning why Jackie’s full name was never fully revealed, which was rather ironically published in the Washington Post. Farhi revealed that WaPo made an agreement not to publish her full name in exchange for discussing her story with WaPo reporters. Internet sleuths eventually discovered Jackie’s real name, Jaqueline Coakley, and other news outlets have published her name since then.
The media is also subject to pressure to never challenge victim narratives. As noted in the Columbia Journalism report, “Social scientists, psychologists and trauma specialists who support rape survivors have impressed upon journalists the need to respect the autonomy of victims, to avoid re-traumatizing them and to understand that rape survivors are as reliable in their testimony as other crime victims.” Rolling Stone made a number of missteps that ended up costing millions in litigation.
Political and Culture Wars
Dissenting opinions on normative beliefs about the prevalence of sexual violence in the US, including concerns about false allegations, are often bullied into silence; they accused of being “rape apologists/rapists,” “groomers”, or “pedophiles/pedo sympathizers,” accused of “normalizing pedophilia,” or simply ignored. Yet, public opinions of accusations of sexual assault or harassment and false allegations can vary by gender and political ideology.
A 2022 Pew Research report found that 15% of all survey respondents that believe that false allegations of sexual harassment or assault in the workplace were “extremely common” or “very common”, while 10% responded false allegations were not common at all. By contrast, 46% stated it was “extremely common” or “very common” for people to not report sexual harassment or assault in the workplace, while only 3% responded failing to report was not common at all. Among Democrats and those who lean left, 65% of men and 76% of women “strongly” or “somewhat” support the #MeToo Movement, and only 6% of men and 5% of women oppose it. Among Republicans and right-leaning individuals, 15% of men and 28% of women support #MeToo, while 49% of men and 34% of women oppose it. There was no gender difference among responses to the question about false allegations, but more Republican-leaning respondents were nearly twice as likely to say false allegations were “extremely” or “very” common than Democrat-leaning respondents (20% vs 11%). Of those who oppose #MeToo, false accusation concerns (18%) were the second most cited reason, behind due process concerns (22%).
Both of the main political candidates in the 2020 Presidential election faced sexual assault allegations –the Democratic candidate Joe Biden and the Republican Incumbent Donald Trump. Former Joe Biden staffer Tara Reade claimed that Biden sexually harassed and assaulted her in 1993. After failing to convince officials the assault took place after facing credibility questions, Reade fled to Russia, claiming she was threatened and harassed for making the accusation. A 2020 Monmouth University found that, “Most voters (86%) have heard about an allegation that Biden may have sexually assaulted a woman who worked in his U.S. Senate office in the 1990s. (Note: This question was added to the poll after Biden publicly addressed the issue on Friday morning.) The electorate is divided on the validity of this allegation – 37% say it is probably true, 32% say it is probably not true, and 31% have no opinion. Opinion on this question breaks sharply along partisan lines. More Republicans say the allegation is probably true (50%) than not true (17%) while more Democrats say is it is probably not true (55%) than true (20%). Independents are more likely to feel that the allegation is true (43%) rather than not true (22%), while 35% have no opinion either way. Overall, men (39% true and 29% not true) are slightly more likely than women (35% true and 34% not true) to believe the charge against Biden.”
Meanwhile, jurors in a New York civil case held Donald Trump liable for a sexual assault claim by writer E. Jean Carroll in a dressing room in the 1990s, and awarded her $5 million in damages. The AP headline stated the victory as a “rare moment of accountability.” In a 2023 Yahoo News/YouGov poll taken just before the verdict, over 1500 respondents were asked if they believe Trump had sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll. The overall responses were fairly even—37% believed it was true, 33% believed it was false, and 29% were unsure. Among Democratic Party voters, 67% believed it was true, 9% believed it was false, and 23% were unsure. Among Republican Party voters, 10% believed it was true, 71% believed it was false, and 29% were unsure. Among independents, 30% believed it was true, 35% believed it was false, and 35% were unsure.
How do you feel about this? Think about it. Is Biden guilty? Is Trump guilty? Are both Biden and Trump guilty or innocent? Your answer likely depends on your political alignment more than you realize.
The #MeToo slogan “Believe Women” was sometimes reinterpreted by others as “Believe ALL Women,” and the latter term became used as a weapon in the culture war. A Boston Herald headline mocked the perceived hypocrisy of leftists and feminists with the headline, “Democrats say ‘believe all women’ — just not Tara Reade.” The author, Grace Curley, a right-wing commentator, wrote, “The Democrats, once the party of ‘Believe All Women,’ have now quickly morphed into the party of ‘Believe Some Women.’ Reade is not the first victim of a liberal double standards by any means, but her allegation has put the left’s blatant hypocrisy on full display.”
A counterpoint was made by Monica Heese, gender issues reporter in the Washington Post, with her own headline, “‘Believe Women’ was a slogan. ‘Believe All Women’ is a straw man.” Heese argued that the intent behind the slogan was to “neutralize bias”; “Believe women” meant “don’t assume women as a gender are especially vindictive, and recognize that false allegations are less common than real ones,” the feminist author Sady Doyle wrote in Elle in November 2017. In other words, allow yourself to believe that women are just as trustworthy as men have been believed to be for decades…Believe women. Two words… I revisited the history of the phrase because its original meaning is being retroactively altered, amid discussions of Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden, to “Believe all women.” And that extra word is a weapon.”
Yet slogans and labels have always been used as part of the propaganda machine. “Believe (ALL) Women.” “If it saves JUST ONE Child.” Slogans are part of the problem. But so are labels. When I wrote the first version of the False Allegations article on April 24, 2009, I had added the following statement:
“Current discriminatory remarks such as the misuse of the term ‘gay’ as a derisive term are being replaced with the terms ‘sex offender,’ ‘predator,’ or ‘pedophile’ as the latest form of personal attack, which can have serious consequences. In Pennsylvania, an eighth-grade student nearly faced criminal charges after making online claims her school principal was an admitted ‘sex addict’ and ‘pedophile.’ In Colorado, an anonymous person made false sex offender fliers targeting a man not listed on any sex offender registry, citing the controversial website ‘Family Watchdog’ as a reference. Crime Stoppers offered a reward for the arrest of the creator of these slanderous fliers. In Illinois, a smear campaign depicting one state senator as a “friend of child molesters” during the 2008 election.”
If anything, the misuse of such derogatory terms has increased in the years since 2009, the year I first published an article about false allegations. In the early half of the 2020s, the term “groomer”, a term used to describe actions an offender may use to acclimate a child to illicit contact, became widely used as an insult and accusation.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, “Far-right and extremist voices have launched a significant attack against the LGBTQ+ community in 2021-2022, demonizing people via repeated false claims that LGBTQ+ people are ‘pedophiles’ who are ‘grooming’ children in order to abuse them. This false and malicious narrative has been weaponized to label the LGBTQ+ community as “groomers” and has fueled a slew of hostile legislation and policies aimed at erasing the discussion of LGBTQ+ related issues in schools, removing LGBTQ+ books from schools and public libraries and, especially, to ostracize, defame and harass transgender people…”
“Baseless accusations that LGBTQ+ people and others are “grooming” children began to circulate on Twitter in 2021, promoted in particular by conservative pundits Christopher Rufo and James Lindsay, as well as the anti-LGBTQ+ Twitter account known as Libs of TikTok. However, it wasn’t until spring 2022 that “grooming” rhetoric really became a major anti-LGBTQ+ narrative getting nationwide attention, thanks in large part to publicity surrounding a controversial anti-LGBTQ+ law passed in Florida…Angry that opponents had nicknamed the measure the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary, tweeted on March 4 that ‘the bill that liberals inaccurately call ‘Don’t Say Gay’ would be more accurately described as an Anti-Grooming Bill.’ In a follow-up tweet, she claimed that anyone who opposed the bill was ‘probably a groomer.’”
In short, the political, gender, culture wars have divided Americans more than ever since the time I originally wrote my report on false allegations. Eventually, one side will win the culture war until a new scandal appears to start yet another cause. As noted in Bari Weiss’s New York Times OpEd regarding how #MeToo could end, “Maybe it will happen tomorrow or maybe next week or maybe next month. But the Duke Lacrosse moment, the Rolling Stone moment, will come. A woman’s accusation will turn out to be grossly exaggerated or flatly untrue. And if the governing principle of this movement is still an article of faith, many people will lose their religion. They will tear down all accusers as false prophets. And we will go back to a status quo in which the word of the Angelos is more sacred than the word of the Isabellas.”
We cannot forget the media, including traditional or “mainstream media”, social media, and so-called “citizen journalists” all play roles in advancing false allegations. The media painted Crystal Mangum, the African-American stripper who falsely accused Duke Lacrosse players of gang-rape in 2006, as a “working mother and college student” since strippers are apparently less worthy of sympathy than women struggling to make ends meet under American Capitalism. Kathleen Parker’s rebuke of the case pointed out that, “Doubtless, many among Duke’s faculty and administration, as well as random race-baiters, campus feminists, various reporters, commentators and assorted armchair prosecutors would prefer that no one remember their roles in advancing the Nifong farce… Even after it became clear that there were problems with the case — no DNA match, no witnesses, logistical impossibilities, a “victim” who couldn’t get her story straight and contrary evidence impugning her claims — rape-victim advocates continued their defense.”
Of course, we would have known little to nothing about this case had it not been picked up by the media, which in turn led to airtime for victim advocates and true-crime pundits to take to the growing social media sites of the time to condemn the accused without even the benefit of a trial. Both the mainstream media and social media pundits want to be the first to break news, but rarely are initial reports accurate. However, people often remember the first reports, or only the most salacious details on any noteworthy story.
When Aliahna Lemmon was killed by her babysitter in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2012, the media’s focus was on the 14 registrants living in the same trailer park, not the actual killer, who had no prior sex offense record. An HLN headline even referred to the park as a “sex offender ghetto.” The media also reported that Lemmon’s recently deceased grandfather was also on the registry.  Days after the murder, a state legislature told the news media he planned on passing an “Aliahna’s law,” though there was no idea what it could do since the suspected killer had no sex offense record. When Sierra LaMar went missing in Morgan Hill, California in 2022, the news media made it a point to let everyone know the father of a missing California teenager is on the registry, despite not being a suspect or person of interest. The local police also conducted a sweep of Registered Persons living in the area. Fox News gleefully reported that the police in nearby counties conducted sweeps of Persons Forced to Register, adding in the headline that a Registered Person was “arrested on an unrelated charge.” (Lamar died by drowning.) When Charlotte Sena went missing in New York State in 2023, Registered Persons in the area were subject to police harassment and accusations from Internet crime pundits; when Sena was found safe and her kidnapper arrested, early reports erroneously claimed the suspect was “a 51 year old pedophile.” It was later retracted when police confirmed the suspect was not on the Sex Offense Registry.
What all of these cases have in common is that both the mainstream media and independent entities on social media were purveyors of misinformation. All had speculated that Persons Forced to Register on a publicly accessible sex offense registry was unequivocally to blame for the crime, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
POTENTIAL REASONS FOR FALSE ALLEGATIONS
Many professionals should look out for specific warning signs in such cases which may increase the likelihood of false allegations in CSA cases:
1. Certain personality disorders of the accusers
2. Divorce/ child custody proceedings
3. Situations with the potential for financial gains
4. History of unsubstantiated allegations
5. Unusual timing of the allegation
6. Situations which the accuser may have a need to draw attention away from them (such as substance abuse)
7. Lack of response from the child
The report lists typical reasons for false allegations; one or all could be prime factors:
1. Emotional motivations [such as attention seeking]
3. Therapist Error or Collusion
4. Accusation to protect oneself from the consequences of other behavior
While malicious or intentional accusations may be considered “rare” by statistical standards, the fact remains they do happen. Below are a few case studies of the different ways people landed behind bars due to false allegations:
Perhaps no other case embodies malicious prosecution than the infamous “Duke Lacrosse” sexual assault allegations of 2006. The allegations stemmed from one of the two “exotic dancers” hired for an off-campus party. The backlash from the allegations was severe, including media embarrassment for the program and the players. Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong would state that as many as 46 of the Lacrosse players were under suspicion of the sex crime allegations. Among those in the media who were quick to crucify the accused, media personality Wendy Murphy was the most vocal; she emphatically stated, “I never, ever, met a false rape claim, by the way. My own statistics speak the truth.” Apparently there is a first time for everything, as the case ended with the exoneration of the Lacrosse players and Prosecutor Nifong disbarred for prosecutorial misconduct. “The bar’s three-member disciplinary panel unanimously found Nifong guilty of fraud, dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation; of making false statements of material fact before a judge; of making false statements of material fact before bar investigators, and of lying about withholding exculpatory DNA evidence, among other violations.” Despite this case ending with exoneration of innocent people and the name Nifong becoming a short-lived slang term for being the victim of malicious prosecution, this case is still referenced to his day as the “Duke Lacrosse case.”
One interesting note is that Wendy Murphy still defends her position on the so-called “Duke Lacrosse case” anytime her previous statements are challenged. In a Tweet posted on August 11, 2023, Murphy stated, “Never seen a false rape claim in my work. Duke victim was offered 2 million to recant. Broomstick was seized & tested for DNA. Results are secret. Eyewitness statements & victim’s full statement also secret. I don’t talk about the Duke case unless an idiot like you brings it up.”
It should be duly noted that social workers, child services employees, and law enforcement agents serve the same functions in regards to the investigation and prosecution of sex crime accusations; so for all intents and purposes, all government agencies are one and the same. In the aforementioned Bakersfield day care panic, social service agencies and police investigators worked together to persecute and falsely convict innocent people on terrible charges.
A New York man was freed after three years in prison for child rape he says he didn’t commit. He was convicted despite tests showing no rape had taken place and questionable evidence. The man states the motivating factor in the false allegations was money; he had recently acquired a work injury settlement. Despite the fact there was no evidence of a crime, Laura Ahern of Parents For Megan’s Law claims the man got off on a technicality.
Accusation to protect oneself from the consequences of other behavior
A thirteen-year-old boy in Pasco County, Florida called in a false kidnapping report to hide the fact that he was out on a date with a girl; the boy was subsequently placed in juvenile detention.
And before there was Carlee Russell, there was Jennifer Wilbanks, who became known as the “Runaway Bride” in 2005 when she falsely claimed she has been kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a Hispanic male and a bilingual white female while out for a jog. Law enforcement spent thousands to search for Wilbanks. In reality, Wilbanks had bought a ticket from Georgia to Las Vegas then onto New Mexico. While on a Greyhound Bus, she befriended a couple she then used as the description of the kidnappers. But her story quickly fell apart when questioned by police, and she admitted she ran away because she could not handle the stress of trying to plan her wedding.
Coercion to cover up another crime
Sometimes, false allegations are the result of a real crime but where others are accused of perpetrating the offense, as in the Beatrice Six case. But some are innocently accused of an offense to cover up a crime committed by someone else. A South Dakota man was pardoned and exonerated in 2009 after serving 22 years for a sex crime he never committed. Accused by his half-sister, it was later determined the half-sister lied under coercion by the boyfriend of the girl’s mother; the boyfriend was the one molesting her at the time.
Two Alabama teenagers lured a convicted sex offender to their homes in order to get him arrested and gain air time on television. Later, evidence surfaced that the teens lied about how they lured the registrant to their house for the arrest (to buy a broken motorcycle, not for soliciting sex through MySpace), and the charges against the registrant were dropped.
False Confessions & Guilty Pleas
“Repressed Memory Syndrome” has been a persistent belief despite valid criticism of the belief that traumatic memories are simply compartmentalized and forgotten until brought up in criminal investigations. In the case of the Beatrice Six, the methods used to compel these men and women to provide false statements, which included feeding them details and then (courtesy of police psychologist Dr. Wayne Price) brainwashing them into thinking that their dreams about the murder were real.
Over the years, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation had worked to challenge the widespread and dubious use of techniques to “recover” “repressed memories.” (The FMS Foundation dissolved in 2019 but keeps the website online.) The FMS Foundation explains:
“Sometimes people call the Foundation and ask us if their recovered memories are true (historically accurate). We must respond by saying that, unfortunately, we could never know what happened to other people many years ago. Again, without some independent external corroboration, no one can discern true from false memories. When callers ask this question, we generally urge them to consider how these memories came to them. If repeated and suggestive questioning, inappropriate group therapy practices, imagination exercises, or “memory enhancement” techniques such as hypnosis were involved, we caution callers that although they may believe that they are remembering more, no evidence supports using these techniques for uncovering historically reliable memories. Hypnosis and sodium amytal (“truth serum”) are especially unreliable for these purposes.”
“Although other “memory work” techniques have not been studied as systematically as hypnosis, cognitive psychologists have warned about techniques like guided imagery, relaxation exercises, trance writing and stream-of-consciousness journaling. With these techniques, patients make no effort to apply critical and logical thought processes. In addition, they can induce a hypnotic state, with its well-known risk of increased suggestibility. Scientists have also noted the risks of believing in dream interpretation. Dreams are not videotapes of events; thus interpretations, even if made by experts, are completely subjective, and therefore of dubious reliability.”
“Memory does not work like a videotape recorder. There just is no button to push or pill to take that can guarantee historically accurate memories. Memory is constructive: that is, people take bits and fragments of recollections from the past and use them to reconstruct a narrative that makes sense to them in the here and now. Memory gaps get filled in with new information mixed with old, and it becomes impossible to separate the two. Again, the truth or falsity of a memory cannot be discerned in the absence of external corroboration.”
According to the Innocence Project, just over one out of every four wrongful convictions they helped overturn (29%) involved false confessions; 49% of the false confessors were 21 years old or younger at the time of arrest; 31% of the false confessors were 18 years old or younger at the time of arrest, and 9% of the false confessors had mental health or mental capacity issues, known at trial.
Police interrogation tactics, like the “Reid Technique,” is how police extracts confessions. “The Reid Technique trains officers to get a confession from a suspect they believe is guilty, no matter the cost. The process focuses on a presumption of guilt and uses deceptive tactics to achieve an admission of that guilt”:
- Step 1: The officer tells the suspect that he is absolutely certain of the suspect’s guilt.
- Step 2: Persuades the suspect into offering an excuse for committing the crime.
- Steps 3 and 4: The officer should reject the suspect’s denials or statements of innocence.
- Step 5: Keep the suspect psychologically engaged
- Step 6: Keep the suspect from being passive.
- Step 7: “The alternative question,” where the officer offers the suspect two characterizations of the crime. If the suspect admits to the lesser reprehensible one, this can have the functional equivalent to an incriminating statement. This is often where suspects will admit to the “better” alternative to stop the questioning. Steps eight and nine obtain the legally sufficient confession.
- Step 8: Turn the oral confession into a “legally acceptable and substantiated confession that discloses the circumstances and details of the act.”
- Step 9: Turn the oral confession into a written one.
The University of Cincinnati Law Review recounts the experience of Christopher Tapp, who was originally interviewed when the police suspected his friend, Benjamin Hobbs, to have been involved in a rape/murder case in 1997:
“Tapp originally stated that neither he nor his friends had anything to do with this crime. However, the officers ‘falsely told Tapp that Hobbs had already placed Tapp at the crime scene, and that they could help Tapp if he cooperated.’ As the interviews went on, and the pressure by the officers increased, so did Tapp’s involvement in this case. Tapp entered into an agreement with the prosecutors that if Tapp gave an honest account of the events, he would only be charged with aiding and abetting an aggravated battery.”
“Officers then threw out the immunity agreement and attempted to pin this murder on Tapp, despite the fact that the DNA found at the crime scene did not match Tapp, Hobbs, or their third friend Sargis. Before taking his fifth polygraph test, police told Tapp that he could get a lighter sentence if he explained that he acted in fear for this life (the alternate option of the Reid Technique). During the polygraph, Tapp said that Hobbs murdered the victim, but he joined Hobbs in stabbing her, but only because Hobbs had threated to kill him.”
“Tapp was charged with first-degree murder and rape. Hobbs was never charged with anything relating to this crime. Although the interviews with Tapp were recorded, not all of them were presented at trial. Specially, three of the seven recordings of Tapp’s polygraph videotapes that showed coercion and deception were not presented. DNA testing of the semen found at the crime scene eventually linked a man named Brian Dripps to the crime. Dripps eventually confessed to the crime and admitted that he acted alone and did not know Tapp. Tapp’s conviction was fully vacated in 2019.”
The UC Law Review report adds, “While not every false confession goes to this extreme, it shows that path that the Reid Technique opens. Fear. Intimidation. Flex of power. These doors allow for officers to push a person to his breaking point. Tapp’s story shows how these techniques can even break down a person without signs of physical abuse. While it might be easy to say that you would never confess to a crime you did not commit, the purpose behind the Reid Technique is to break the suspect down from his original, reasonable mindset. After hours of interrogation, often without food or sleep, a once rational person might lose all sense of reason. With no sign of a light at the end of the tunnel, a beaten down person may feel no choice but to just say what the officers want to hear to end it all.”
NO SYMPATHY FOR THE ACCUSED
William Telano Evans had spent five years fighting allegations of sexual abuse in a Florida court. Unable to face the prospect of going to prison for an alleged sexual act against a minor three-decades prior, Evans had left the courthouse and returned to his home. While the jury reconvened to deliver its verdict, Evans took his own life. The jury had found Evans Not Guilty. In the courthouse hallway, Evans’ wife, Peggy, used her cell phone to call her husband. “They found you not guilty,” she said. “Please, please don’t do anything.” But it was too late.
Our criminal justice system is far from perfect. Police investigate crime, then a prosecutor reviews the evidence, then a grand jury, then either a trial judge or a jury reviews evidence before deciding guilt. In theory, this process of multiple reviews should all but eliminate the chances that some innocent person may get falsely convicted. However, DNA evidence has cleared over 200 people convicted of sex crimes since 1989, many of whom have served lengthy prison sentences. In addition to the stigma and shame they carry even after being exonerated, few states offer support and assistance to the exonerated. Many of those exonerated have found even with the exoneration papers in hand, they were typically treated as a convicted sex offender, including harassment, denial of housing and employment, and some were still forced to register.
Society has proven we are more than willing to sacrifice a few innocent people to save the mythical “just one child” with draconian laws. Celebrity child victim advocate Mark Lunsford testified before the March 2009 SORNA committee hearing he felt that sacrificing a few innocent people is a small price to pay for child safety:
“Well, I think what is going to happen–alright. If we back up because it is too hard, the children will pay the price. If we move forward and continue to try to figure out how we fix this problem, you might have a few people on the registry that might not belong there. So weigh it out. Do we register a man that might not be as guilty as we think he is, or do we let a child die? I mean, I think we have to go with going to go with more reg–better registration and notification when we have to. The only person that is going to make a sacrifice is maybe somebody who doesn’t belong there. But if we don’t get tougher registration and better notification, another child will die.”
When confronted by anti-registry activists after the hearing, “He indicated that he did not believe that he had said something to that effect and that he did not mean for that to be my understanding.” But the Congressional record published Lunsford’s words verbatim.
I am pretty sure John Stoll, one of the individuals falsely convicted of sexual abuse in the Bakersfield day care Satanic Panic case, would disagree. For twenty years, Stoll told prisoners he was incarcerated for drug running because, “I knew the odds weren’t real good that I wasn’t going to get stabbed going to prison as a convicted child molester.” One cellmate discovered his identity by discovering Stoll’s case in the law library then having someone on the outside look up Stoll’s paperwork, but that cellmate was involved in a riot the next day and transferred. Stoll managed to hide his offense until his exoneration.
Even if a person convicted of a sexual offense is not physically harmed while incarcerated, their prison experiences are still more punitive than that of other prisoners. They are often ostracized by other prisoners, and many who are not placed in protective custody are sent to special camps that may keep them safer, but have poorer conditions. During my own experience in prison, “SOs” were not permitted to go to minimum security camps; when the Alabama Department of Corrections decided to use prison labor to convert a warehouse into a mental health unit, “SOs” were not permitted to apply for positions paying 25 cents per hour. I’ve been told by many prisoners in the federal system the inmates themselves ban anyone with a sex offense from the TV room.
The very notion of sacrificing the innocent to save the innocent is an oxymoron. The pressure to accept a lesser plea is overwhelming, and given the vast majority of criminal cases end in guilty pleas, those who are truly innocent have little hope to overcome false allegations.
We don’t even NEED a criminal trial when the court of public opinion, where cases are investigated by Internet sleuths with no criminal investigation experience also act as prosecutors, while others act as jurors eager to declare guilt solely on the accusations of these online personalities. These online jurors form mobs to dox the accused, i.e., post private information about a person, leading to harassment and death threats. If the system of justice created by the US government can wrongly convict thousands of people for crimes they did not commit, then having someone falsely declared as a sexual offender is even more likely.
Daniel M. Keem, known by his online persona “Keemstar” and host of the controversial “Drama Alert” YouTube channel, shifted some of his focus away from reporting on Internet drama and turn his attention to “exposing online pedophiles.” In 2016, Keem posted a video (“Runecape Sex Offender Returns”) where he falsely accused Tony Winchester, aka RSGloryandGold (an elderly man who made Twitch stream videos of the game Runescape) of being a “convicted pedophile.” Keem had confused Winchester with John Phillips, a man convicted for using Runescape to attract children. Phillips was in prison at the time. Winchester, who had a very small following, was flooded with hateful comments. Tony, after dealing with all this hate, starts to break down on stream. He says, while crying: “Now everyone in the world knows my real name is Tony Ray Winchester, I’m 62, I’m retired, I haven’t got my first social security check yet, but I’ll get it soon… I’m not going to let someone run me off… but you guys know I’m a good guy now, so I’m going to go take a break.” Keem eventually learned he got the wrong guy, issued an apology, and the hate storm eventually blew over. The reporter who retold the story lamented that, “Internet mobs have become a norm, with online personalities using their audience to attack whoever is deemed a worthy victim.” 
Online vigilantes and vigilante groups catfish lonely men by creating online profiles then pulling the bait-and-switch by claiming they’re really underage, and sometimes they get it wrong, too. Darrell Berekoff, of Surrey, British Columbia, was wrongly accused of being a pedophile after a photo from his Facebook page was posted on a vigilante page called “Creep Catchers” website. Berekoff said that not only was he threatened but also his family and his employer. Creep Catchers never offered an apology or addendum to their claims even after it was proven they had made a false allegation. Zach Sweers, a Michigan vigilante, agreed to donate ill-received funds after falsely accused two men of being “sexual predators” on his vigilante YouTube channel.
The first step to fixing a problem is admitting there is a problem in the first place. Admitting false accusations exist does not deny sexual crimes exist. Sometimes, people lie about being a victim for various reasons. Others have been actually victimized but accuse the wrong person or persons involved. Sometimes the zeal to punish someone—ANYONE—has led to some terrible results.
Social, political, and cultural forces continue to propagate and reinforce Predator Panic. We’ve gone so far as use labels given to sex offenders as insults and personal attacks against individuals. So it comes as no surprise that despite a high degree of false allegations, the accused are already convicted in the court of public opinion. Everyone is “guilty until proven innocent.” Actually, even when proven innocent, public opinion merely sees him as “getting off on a technicality.” The innocent be damned. Woe to anyone merely accused, much less convicted, of a sexual offense. Online vigilante groups are rarely punished for making false allegations. Attorneys who defend those accused of sex crimes and judges that don’t punish harshly enough might be “canceled.” And if you dare ask for due process, you will be accused of misogyny or being a “pedo” or “groomer.” This blight on our modern society needs to change.
More reading on false allegations
- http://www.menstuff.org/issues/byissue/falseaccusation.html — A compilation of information on false allegations, primarily of child abuse
- http://falseallegations.com/ — Contains a plethora of links to articles on false sexual abuse allegations and other sex offender related issues
- “Witch Hunt: About the Film – Synopsis.” Witch Hunt Documentary Website, 2009. Film now available on DVD. http://www.witchhuntmovie.com/about.html, Retrieved April 24, 2009
- Nick Schager. “How the Beatrice Six Were Brainwashed Into Confessing to Murder.” Daily Beast. 20 Jun. 2022. Accessed 14 Oct. 2023 at https://www.thedailybeast.com/mind-over-murder-reveals-how-the-beatrice-six-were-brainwashed-into-confessing-to-murder
- “Gage County completes pay-off of Beatrice Six judgment.” News Channel Nebraska. 8 Mar. 2023. Accessed 14 Oct. 2023 at https://www.1011now.com/2023/03/09/gage-county-completes-pay-off-beatrice-six-judgment/
- Luke Gittos. “Let’s put the ‘mattress girl’ case to bed.” Spiked Ltd. 19 July 2017. Accessed 13 Oct. 2023 at https://www.spiked-online.com/2017/07/19/lets-put-the-mattress-girl-case-to-bed/
- Stephanie Kirchgaessner. “Revealed: Senate investigation into Brett Kavanaugh assault claims contained serious omissions.” The Guardian UK. 28 Apr 2023. Accessed 13 oct. 2023 at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/apr/28/brett-kavanaugh-investigation-omissions-senate-sexual-assault-claims
- Shawn Nottingham. “Carlee Russell, who admitted to faking her own kidnapping in Alabama, was found guilty in the hoax and sentenced to a year in jail.” CNN. 11 Oct. 2023. Accessed 13 Oct 2023 at https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/11/us/carlee-russell-guilty-kidnapping-hoax-alabama/index.html
- Nathaniel Meyersohn. “‘Sound of Freedom’ is a box office hit. It has an unusual ticket strategy.” CNN. 25 July 2023. Accessed 13 Oct 2023 at https://www.cnn.com/2023/07/25/business/sound-of-freedom-box-office-pay-it-forward/index.html
- Adam Herbets. “FULL DOCUMENTS: Tim Ballard lied to donors, according to ex-OUR employees.” Fox 13 Salt Lake City. 28 Sept. 2023. Accessed 13 Oct. 2023 at https://www.fox13now.com/news/fox-13-investigates/full-documents-tim-ballard-lied-to-donors-according-to-ex-our-employees
- Emma Bryce. “False memories and false confessions: the psychology of imagined crimes.” Wired. 22 July 2017. Accessed 15 Oct 2015 at https://www.wired.co.uk/article/false-memory-syndrome-false-confessions-memories
- Jeff Zaslow. “Avoiding Kids: How men cope with being cast as predators.” Wall Street Journal, 6 Sept. 2007.Retrieved 19 Feb. 2008 at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118903209653018615.html
- Eugene J. Kanin. “False rape allegations.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, Feb. 1994
- “Are Allegations of Sexual Abuse That Arise During Child Custody Disputes Less Likely To Be Valid? An Annotated Review of the Research.” The Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence, 2009. Retrieved April 24, 2009 at http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/ap.html,
- Tommy MacKay. (2014). False allegations of child abuse in contested family law cases: The implications for psychological practice. Educational and child psychology. 31. 85-96. 10.53841/bpsecp.2014.31.3.85.
- Nico Trocme and Nicholas Bala. “False allegations of abuse and neglect when parents separate.” Child Abuse and Neglect, 2005. Retrieved April 24, 2009 at http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/docs/Trocme.pdf,
- Kelly Walsh, Jeanette Hussemann, Abigail Flynn, Jennifer Yahner, and Laura Golian. “Estimating the Prevalence of Wrongful Convictions.” Urban Institute. Sept. 2017. Accessed 16 Oct. 2023 at https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/251115.pdf
- Kathleen Parker And Washington Post. “Nifong’s legacy, feminism’s shame.” Orlando Sentinel. 20 June 2007. Accessed 17 Oct 2023 at https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2007/06/20/nifongs-legacy-feminisms-shame/
- Bettina Arndt. “False rape allegations aren’t so rare.” Bettina Arndt. 11 Oct 22023. Accessed 16 Oct 2023 at https://bettinaarndt.substack.com/p/false-rape-allegations-arent-so-rare
- Cathy Young. “The Rape Culture Myth.” Medium. 30 July 2017. Acessed 16 Oct. 2023 at https://medium.com/arc-digital/the-rape-culture-myth-5e8f968b5c76
- Bari Weiss. “The Limits of ‘Believe All Women’.” NY Times. 28 Nov 2017. Accessed 16 Oct 2023 at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/opinion/metoo-sexual-harassment-believe-women.html
- “Writer Emily Lindin closes her Twitter after sexist tweets.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 23 Nov 2017. Accessed 16 Oct 2023 at https://www.ajc.com/news/national/writer-emily-lindin-closes-her-twitter-after-sexist-tweets/iBlrMp8KTQx6Zd1R8M3gZL/
- Holly Yan and Nicole Chavez. “Trump says it’s a ‘scary time’ for men. Here are the stats on false sexual assault claims.” CNN. 3 Oct. 2018. Accessed 14 Oct. 2023 at https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/03/health/sexual-assault-false-reports/index.html
- Tom Nankivell and John Papadimitriou. “A review of the high-quality studies on the prevalence of false sexual assault reports.” Gander Research. 4 Apr 2023. Accessed 14 Oct. 2023 at https://ganderresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/GANDER-Prevalence-Studies-research-paper-4-April-23.pdf
- Scott H. Greenfield. “Stare Rape Is Now Official, Honestly.” Simple Justice: A Criminal Defense Blog. 26 Dec 2018. Accessed 16 Oct 2023 at https://blog.simplejustice.us/2018/12/26/stare-rape-is-now-official-honestly/
- See Alia E. Dastagir. “Rape and incest account for hardly any abortions. So why are they now a focus?” USA Today. 24 May 2019. Accessed 14 May 2019 at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/05/24/rape-and-incest-account-few-abortions-so-why-all-attention/1211175001/. The article posts a link to RAINN at https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system; the RAINN stats have since changed
- Extrapolated from RAINN’s Form 990 for Fiscal Year 2021, Accessed on 15 Oct 2023 at https://www.rainn.org/sites/default/files/990%20FY22%20RAINN%20Public%20Version.pdf
- See the yearly results summarized at Derek W. Logue. “The Myth of the “Dark Figure” of Underreporting.” Once Fallen. 24 May 2019. Accessed 14 Oct. 2023 at https://oncefallen.com/underreporting-myth/
- Jennifer L. Truman, Ph.D., and Lynn Langton, Ph.D. “Criminal Victimization, 2014.” Bureau of Justice Statistics. Aug. 2015. https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv14.pdf
- “About RAINN’s Statistics.” RAINN. Accessed 15 Oct 2023 at https://www.rainn.org/about-rainns-statistics
- Jennifer l. Truman, Ph.D. “Criminal Victimization, 2010.” US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Sept. 2011. Accessed 15 Oct 2023 at https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv10.pdf
- Michelle Ye Hee Lee. “The truth about a viral graphic on rape statistics.” Washington Post. 9 Dec 2014. Accessed 16 Oct 2023 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/12/09/the-truth-about-a-viral-graphic-on-rape-statistics/
- “The Enliven Project.” Sarah Pierson. Accessed 16 Oct. 2023 at https://sarahpierson.me/the-enliven-project/
- Sheila Coronel, Steve Coll, And Derek Kravitz. “Rolling Stone’s investigation: ‘A failure that was avoidable’.” Columbia Journalism Review. 5 Apr 2015. Accessed 16 Oct 2023 at https://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php
- T. Rees Shapiro. “‘Catfishing’ over love interest might have spurred U-Va. gang-rape debacle.’ The Washington Post. 8 Jan. 2016. Accessed 16 Oct. 2023 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/01/08/catfishing-over-love-interest-might-have-spurred-u-va-gang-rape-debacle/
- Paul Farhi. “Jackie’s rape story was false. So why hasn’t the media named her by now?” Washington Post. 11 Jan. 2016. Accessed 17 Oct 2023 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/jackies-rape-story-was-false-so-why-hasnt-the-media-named-her-by-now/2016/01/11/c1733926-b89e-11e5-b682-4bb4dd403c7d_story.html
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- Ibid., pp. 343-344
- “Looking back at the Duke Lacrosse Case.” Duke Office of News and Communication, 2009. Retrieved 24 Apr 2009 at http://news.duke.edu/lacrosseincident/
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