False rape allegations aren’t so rare

– How feminists have cooked the books to claim women hardly ever lie about rape.

Remember how the Brittany Higgins case blew up when a juror brought into the jury room an academic paper discussing the frequency of false allegations of sexual assault. That broke the rules prohibiting jury members from accessing outside material relevant to the case.

Yet the significance of this extraordinary event, which led to the mistrial of one of Australia’s most sensational rape cases, has passed largely unnoticed.

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. The mantra that false allegations hardly ever happen lurks as a dangerous subtext in every sexual assault case hitting the courts in Australia.  Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyers are currently preparing for next month’s defamation battle against Network 10, Lisa Wilkinson and the ABC over their coverage of the criminal case last year. But still The Guardian is determined to push the feminist line, recently running a headline claiming that Network 10 lawyers “seek to use evidence of rarity of false rape complaints.”

(Just to bring you up to date re that defamation action set for Nov 22, there’s good news for Lehrmann as Higgins appears to have gone missing, along with a promised sworn version of her account of events and Wilkinson continues to fight Network 10 over whether they will indemnify her. It’s not looking good for the media group, facing a lengthy 4-week trial, missing their star witness and the ABC on the nose with the public after it was revealed they’d paid out $1.94 million of taxpayer funds on legal costs over the last four years.)

But what about that evidence on rarity of false complaints? Well, it’s not hard to guess what Network 10 experts would trot out. A piddling 5% of rape allegations are found to be false, they would claim. That’s the party line and you’ll find it promoted everywhere.

Look at this fact sheet from  the Victorian Police’s advice on misconceptions about sexual offending:

“Guys, you can stop worrying about false rape allegations. They’re extremely rare,” trumpeted the ABC’s Hack program, pitched at young people. Only 5% of reports are false, they explained.

The Sydney Morning Herald recently pronounced that we do not have a major problem with men being falsely accused of sexual assault, claiming “statistics show false complaints of sexual assault are incredibly rare – a 2016 meta-analysis of seven studies of rape allegations in four Western countries put confirmed false police reports at 5 per cent.”

They’re all singing from the same songbook but that’s just been shot full of holes. Finally, that famous meta-analysis has been subjected to proper scrutiny – and the data actually reveals false allegations are far less rare than is commonly claimed.

And this is all courtesy of two Australian researchers, Tom Nankivell and John Papadimitriou, who have expertise in statistical analysis and public policy, and more than three decades experience each as researchers and policy analysts with various government agencies. They conducted a review, titled True or false, or somewhere between? A review of the high-quality studies on the prevalence of false sexual assault reports, in which they analysed the methods and data reported in often-cited statistical surveys of the prevalence of false allegations, undertaken in various countries.

This was recently revealed by Oxford criminology researcher, Ros Burnett, who described the Nankivell/Papadimitriou review as “an important and overdue study,” commending the authors for bringing “an empirical approach and unrhetorical tone to the discussion”.

Ros Burnett’s discussion of the Australian researchers’ review, published last month in The Justice Gap, shows that the Ferguson and Malouff meta-analysis which came up with the much-promoted 5% false allegation rate aggregated the findings of statistical studies which misused policing definitions and categories to skew their results. In effect, the surveys cherry-picked the lowest possible rate, selectively ignoring whole categories of cases likely to include false allegations.

Get this… In counting up false allegations, the studies that Ferguson and Malouff re-analysed ONLY  included cases where the complainant admitted the allegation was false, or where police found strong evidential grounds to assume she (or he) had made it up or had been mistaken. That meant excluding all cases where there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, or where the complainant withdrew the allegation, or where the accused was tried and acquitted. NONE of these cases were included under false allegations! In addition, at least one of the studies included basic mathematical errors while others relied on very limited data.

With this highly dubious culling of the data, it is no wonder that they come up with such a low rate of false allegations. Nankivell and Papadimitriou laboriously re-examined the original data to include estimates of possible false allegations in these excluded categories. They concluded that “even with reasonably modest assumptions about the actual level of false allegations in other categories, the prevalence rate for the studies sample would easily exceed 10% and could approach 15%.”

Note this is the conclusion from two very conservative, quantitative researchers. Given what we now know about how the feminists cooked the books, what’s the bet the real rate is actually far higher? According to a recent YouGov survey, 19% of Australians know someone personally who was a victim of false accusation of sexual abuse or rape.

Yet the Nankivell/Papadimitriou report is vital information, so necessary for putting the record straight about this critical statistic which is being used to shut down debate on false allegations and undermine the chances of a fair hearing for accused men.

Please help make sure people know about this study. It is important that news of this path-breaking analysis reaches decision-makers in our police force and justice system, lawyers, journalists and everyone complicit in promoting the feminist myth that false rape allegations hardly ever happen.  Here’s the best link to use to circulate the study.

In her article examining this research, Ros Burnett discusses her own work for over a decade as a criminologist looking at wrongful allegations – she’s the editor of an excellent book, Wrongful Accusations of Sexual and Child Abuse. Burnett describes the hundreds of cases she has encountered where individuals have been found to be falsely accused and her frustration when such cases are dismissed as ‘extremely’ or ‘vanishingly’ rare and she’s “personally accused of being an apologist for rapists.”

That’s the climate we live in, where misinformation is cooked up to promote the women-don’t-lie narrative and denigrate anyone with the courage to tell the truth about what’s really going on. Men are being falsely accused of rape in this country – I am in touch with two tragic cases of young men jailed in the last few weeks following absurd allegations which should never have ended up in court.

Nankivell and Papadimitriou rightly make the point that “there is no credible evidence that women routinely fabricate sexual assault claims” and that “the majority of sexual assault reports are true.” But what muddies the waters is the massive expansion of the type of behaviour now classified as sexual assault. There’s a steady stream of cases now finding their way into court which involve young couples, where a girl may suddenly decide that she hadn’t given consent on one occasion after having sex when she was half asleep, or pretty drunk, even though they might have done this dozens of times before. It makes no sense.

To return just briefly to that meta-analysis of statistical studies which relied mainly upon cases where police found “strong evidential grounds” for false allegations. It’s hardly surprising that hardly ever happens. The police have a huge disincentive to seek such grounds because they are under order not to take action over such matters. I’d long heard from many families of accused men and also from police about this standing order. Lo and behold, I recently received proof in the form of a case note from the NSW Police Force referring to this standard operating procedure in a case where no action was to be taken with a likely false accuser. Here it is…

Here we have a case which apparently fell apart, where the police were left unsure if the whole thing was “completely fabricated”. But they followed orders not to properly determine whether there were the required “strong evidential grounds” to charge the woman. Another man and his family, put through the horror of a possible rape trial, the public humiliation, shaming, the financial stress of seeking legal help. Another woman gets off scot-free.

We’re keen to put together some sort of seminar or public forum involving criminal lawyers, police, policy makers and affected families, to properly address the issue of false allegations of sexual assault. It is vital our community is educated about the misinformation jeopardising fair trials for the accused and allowing malicious false allegations to go unpunished. Please contact me if you know of influential people who could make this happen or would like to be involved in any way.

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