Thursday, July 3, 2008

'The last thing [this false rape accuser] needs is to go to jail'

The news report about another rape hoax set forth below underscores a common theme of false rape cases and presents a vivid contrast between false rape reports and other crimes: the seriousness of the crime of reporting a false rape is often judged by the perceived psychological state of the false accuser. While motive is not an element of the crime, it is regarded as important in deciding whether to file charges against the false accuser and in sentencing her if she is charged and convicted.

Here, the false accuser was found bound, tied and gagged with a plastic bag over her head. She had made multiple phone calls to the Sheriff's office and friends reporting her alleged abduction. It turns out she made up the whole thing. But she's not being charged because she had gone off her medication at the time of the incident.

If her lies had their intended effect, an innocent man might have been arrested, and if charges had been brought and a conviction followed, he might have gone to prison for decades, or even life. Yet the girl is not being charged.

Would anyone think of inquiring into the motivations of a true rapist in deciding whether to charge him? Would there be any sympathy for a true rapist because he was off his medication at the time of the incident? Would a police officer dare assert about a rapist who had gone off his medication, "The last thing he needs is to go to jail”? Only if that police officer was looking for a way to be discharged from his position.

Only when false reporting of rape is treated as a serious offense, and punished accordingly, will other women be deterred from making such claims. The reaction of the police in this case will only invite other women and girls to do the same thing.


Sheriff: Assault near reservoir was 'a hoax'

By Mark F. Bonner

Rankin County Sheriff Ronnie Pennington said the case of a girl found bound, tied and gagged near the Ross Barnett Reservoir Monday afternoon was a hoax.

The young girl, whom Pennington would not identify, was found with a plastic bag over her head and claiming to be raped. But after a medical examination came back negative for rape and an erratic interview with detectives, the girl confessed to making the story up, Pennington said.

“It’s all a hoax — it’s a made-up story,” Pennington said. “But we are not charging her with a crime. After talking with her parents, it looks like she had just stopped using her medication. I just want her to get help. The last thing she needs is to go to jail.”

The revelation caps days of wild rumors which have percolated on the Internet and e-mail circles since the girl was found Monday evening near the Reservoir Fire Station at 104 Church Road.

Pennington would not elaborate on her motive, but said she made multiple phone calls to the Sheriff’s Department and friends to report her false abduction.

“Rumors were running rampant throughout the community,” he said. “I wish we could have come out sooner with this information, but whenever we get a claim like this we take it seriously.”