Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Astounding: College newspaper repeats tired, incorrect information that dismisses false rape claims as a myth

The Penn State Student newspaper ran article today on "rape myths" in which the following appears:

Another myth that was addressed several times throughout the night was of false allegations and women claiming rape if they changed their mind about consent later.

"False allegations of rape don't occur any more than false allegations of any other crime -- only about 2% of the time. Most of the time when they do lie, it's been to protect someone else," [Kimberly Menard, a senior lecturer in the crime, law and justice department] said.

Students who attended the event said they thought it was an important topic to address and agreed they had learned something.

Jonathan Sandoval, Sigma Lambda Beta social chair, said he thought the statistics presented were "astonishing."

"Astonishing" is correct, Jonathan, because it's not true.

Here's my letter to the editor:

In "Rapy Myths at Presentation," Oct. 8, Kimberly Menard stated: "False allegations of rape don't occur any more than false allegations of any other crime -- only about 2% of the time. Most of the time when they do lie, it's been to protect someone else."

This is incorrect. The two percent claim was long ago debunked. Objectively verifiable data indicates that at least 9 percent and probably closer to half of all rape claims are false. (See, e.g., S. Taylor, K.C. Johnson, "Until Proven Innocent," the widely praised study of the Duke Lacrosse non-rape case, praised by even the New York Times which the book skewers.) For a scholarly article tracing the history of the two percent claim, and showing how it is not based on fact, see, e.g, E.Greer, "The Truth Behind Legal Dominance Feminisms 'Two Percent False Rape Claim' Figure, 33 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 947 (2000). The online cite: http://llr.lls.edu/volumes/v33-issue3/greer.pdf

In addition, FBI statistics show that false crime reports in general stand at 2%, but for rape, the agency reports a false reporting rate of 8%, fourfold greater. The Politics of Sexuality, Barry M. Dank, Editor in Chief, Vol. 3 at 36, n. 8.

One can admit that false rape claims are a problem without dismissing the seriousness of rape. Denigrating the experience of the falsely accused by dismissing their victimization as a myth is not merely dishonest but morally grotesque.

My Web site is devoted to raising awareness about false rape claims objectively and factually. http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/ We do not minimize the seriousness of rape, but we owe it to the countless falsely accused men not to sweep the crime that victimized them under the rug.