Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the necessity of increasing sentences for false reporting of rape

This is among the more important posts we've done here, because it goes to the crux of the false rape problem.

Perhaps the single most glaring reason false rape accusations are not deterred is that making a false rape report is not treated in our criminal statutes as a serious crime. Our criminal laws are supposed to be statutory articulations of how seriously society disapproves of various forms of misconduct. A good indicator of how much society disapproves of a particular crime is the maximum allowable sentence for its commission. The maximum sentence for rape, for example, is typically second in number of years only to murder. In contrast, the statutory laws that punish false rape claims are proverbial slaps on the wrists. The maximum sentences often allow just six months to two years, depending on the jurisdiction.

In addition, our criminal statutes often do not treat false reporting of rape any more seriously than false reporting of other crimes. This is so even though: (1) the FBI tells us that false rape reporting is multiple times more common than false reporting of other crimes (and it is more common because it is so easy to do -- the he said/she said nature of the rape claim means that it's usually impossible to know for sure if she lied), and (2) a man or boy convicted of rape will serve more prison time on average than for any crime except murder.

It has become obvious to many people in recent years that false reporting of rape is a special problem in need of special attention. The brilliant legal scholar Professor Alan Dershowitz said: “Rape is such a serious crime that deliberately bringing a false accusation of rape should be an equally serious crime and women are not being punished for those crimes. I believe that being falsely accused of rape is as traumatic as being raped.”

Exactly how did we reach this point? Until relatively recently our criminal laws typically required some form of corroborative evidence to prove rape. In days gone by, the lone accusation of a woman or a girl was not enough to charge or convict for rape. Starting in the 1970s, rape laws underwent sweeping reforms to make it easier to convict men and boys. The requirement of corroboration was among the first casualties of the old laws. Feminist legal scholars provided the intellectual firepower to justify the changes in the law. They insisted, contrary to what we now know is true, that women hardly ever lie about rape. It was during this era that the two percent canard (i.e., only two percent of all rape claims are false) was invented out of whole cloth. Due to these changes in the law, fueled by dishonest statistics, it is now possible to charge and to convict men and boys of rape solely on the say-so of lone accuser. Men and boys, for the first time, face the spectre of having their lives destroyed if a false accuser is a good enough actress. As but one recent example, because it is not necessary to have corroboration, it was possible to arrest and charge four innocent men at Hofstra University based on the say-so of one "troubled" young woman.

When the laws requiring corroboration were repealed, the power of a lone accuser was greatly enhanced. She could send her rapist to prison for many years. The trouble was, she could also send an innocent man or boy to prison for many years. Because of the political climate, it was verboten to discuss the possibility that the rape accuser might misuse her newly enhanced power, or to suggest that the misuse of this power should have serious consequences. Such sentiments were contrary to the culturally accepted myth that women don't lie about rape. In short, society handed theoretically every female in America the power to destroy theoretically any male above a certain age, but it didn't bother to change the laws to penalize the misuse of that power. We are still stuck with the old false reporting statutes that were in place back before the need for corroboration was eliminated from our rape laws.

Political correctness be damned, women do lie about rape, and frequently. The fact that we have given females the power to destroy men and boys means that we need to hold them accountable for misusing that power. As Professor Dershowitz said, they are not being held accountable at present.

We need to amend our criminal statutes to impose greater penalties for false reporting of rape and sexual assault. Only then will false accusers be deterred. Only then will they be punished justly. And only then will we treat the victimization of our sons with the seriousness that we treat the victimization of our daughters.