Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to avoid a false rape charge

False rape claims are a reality, and sometimes there is nothing an innocent man or boy can do to prevent one from being lodged against him.  Sometimes he is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But a significant number of false rape claims can be avoided by exercising caution and avoiding situations where they are more likely to occur.  Unlike rape, where political correctness gone mad tells us we should not put any burden on our daughters to avoid situations where rape is more likely to occur (that is called "victim blaming"), it would be unfortunate if we similarly hesitated to urge our sons to minimize the risk of false rape claims as a matter of principle.  The long-term damage from a false rape claim is potentially so enormous that every reasonable effort should be taken to avoid it.  Make no mistake, the onus for a false rape claim is on the false accuser, just as the onus for rape is on the rapist.  But urging our young people to put themselves in harm's way just to make a politcal point is something no sane parent should ever do. It is no different from a parent telling a teenage son to avoid a bad neighborhood after dark.

Having closely studied false rape claims for a considerable period of time, I have compiled a short list of certain situations where false rape claims are more likely to occur, in no particular order of prevalence: 

Casual hook-ups or one night stands involving alcohol.  Asking the police or a jury to sort out what happened afterwards based on a "he said/she said" account puts a tremendous burden on our law enforcement and judicial apparatuses.  But make no mistake: such situations are a recipe for disaster.  Young men looking to "score" in that situation need to understand that women experience much greater after-the-fact regret than men do.  Sometimes feelings of regret are translated into feelings of "being used," and sometimes feelings of "being used" are misinterpreted as "rape."  Unfortunately, it is the politically correct thing to urge young women to party like the guys -- without bothering to tell them about the regret asymmetry that separates the genders.

Situations where the woman has motivation to deny sex with you was consensual.  It is difficult to overestimate this one. In Prof. Kanin's first landmark false rape study, he found that the motive to cover up a sudden illicit encounter was the primary motivation for false rape claims.  Situations to avoid: if the woman has a husband or a boyfriend, even if you think they are estranged; if the woman doesn't want her parents to know she is serious about you -- perhaps because she is too young or you are not "acceptable" to them; or if the woman is embarrassed to let her friends know she is serious about you.  In each of these situations, if the woman doesn't want someone important to her to know she had sex with you, you are at risk of a false rape claim.

Group sex where there was one woman and multiple guys.  This one is closely related to the previous point.  First, we would be dishonest if we failed to acknowledge that gang rape is a reality.  But, second, there's another reality that many people, especially many older people, do not care to admit occurs: our "hook-up" culture has spawned a trend where young women engage in consensual group sex activities with young men.  Where there is just one young woman and multiple guys, this is a recipe for a false rape claim.  Most sane young women will regret that encounter after-the-fact and will worry that at least one of the young men will "brag" about it, destroying what's left of her reputation. The fear of "slut shaming," as the feminists call it, seems to spawn off-the-charts regret, and that is a false rape claim waiting to happen.

Liars lose.  If a woman claims you raped her, you are more likely to be charged if the police find you lied to the woman or to the police about even a matter that isn't crucial.

Being a school teacher, a police officer, an ambulance paramedic, or a cab driver.  It would be a terrible thing if men stayed away from law enforcement or from being cab drivers the way men avoid the teaching profession due to fears about false rape claims. The reality is that men in any of these professions need to be especially vigilant. Police officers are at risk because some women charged with crimes lie about rape out of revenge or to claim that the charges were trumped up.  Ambulance paramedics and cab drivers are sometimes targeted by delusional women or women looking for an excuse for some indiscretion.

Nasty break-ups.  This one could be the most common situation for false rape claims.  Divorce and custody disputes spawn false rape claims in order for the woman to gain the upper hand in the dispute.  Spurned ex-lovers sometimes use false rape claims as a tool of revenge. 

Older male, much younger female.  A false rape claim is less plausible when it involves peers around the same age because the likelihood of a consensual relationship is greater.  When a girl accuses a middle-aged man of rape, there is no possibility of legal consent, and actual consent is unlikely. Moreover, the allegation is generally viewed as so terribly loathsome that the mantra "guilty until proven innocent" is truly a reality for this one.

Teen boy, older woman.  Sometimes women who statutorily rape teen boys will twice victimize them by falsely accusing them of rape.  Such tactic has facial plausibility, given the male-as-predator stereotype, not to mention the relative naivette and exploding hormones of teen boys.  It is especially disturbing that a woman would, as the cliche goes, throw her callow lover under the bus in order to save herself.

And I most certainly missed some -- please let me know if you can think of any others, and we'll add them to the list.

Addendum: A reminder: we do not advocate that you break the law by using video or audio recording evidence unless you do so legally.  You need to check with the requirements of your particular state to see if it is legal.