Friday, June 25, 2010

The Orlando false rape epidemic

Orlando police said "false reporting has reached an epidemic level" after the recent "spike" in false rape  reports.  See here  Three women in the past two months have reported being raped, only later to recant. See here  Police were called out to investigate possible sexual assaults on May 14, June 13 and June 21, but all proved false. See here 

The epidemic presents a textbook case of many of the issues we routinely report on:

*The known false accusers are young (18 and 20 years old), which is typical.

*Two of the woman identified imaginary stereotypical "scary" men as their "rapists" -- men deemed by society to be more likely to rape (black and Hispanic), most likely to enhance the plausibility of their lies. 

*At least one mainstream news media outlet reported an initial rape claim, which turned out to be a lie, as an actual rape (e.g., referring to the accuser as "the victim"). That, too, is far too common among the sloppy, and perhaps politicized, purveyors of rape news. 

*The police voiced concerns about false rape claims but happened to leave out the single most serious concern: that when false rape claims are made, innocent men and boys too often are targeted as suspects, too often are arrested, too often are charged, and too often are convicted.

*Police openly expressed reluctance to arrest the false accusers. (For what other crime do police express reluctance to arrest criminals?) 

*The mainstream news media sought out sexual assault counselors for quotes, one of whom repeated the usual discredited sexual grievance industry blather that women don't lie about rape. The reporter allowed these far-fetched assertions to go unchallenged and, no doubt, thinks they are credible. I've written to him to disabuse him of these erroneous notions but haven't received the courtesy of a reply or even a "thank you, but here's why I think you're wrong."

*Among other things, one of the sexual assault counselors quoted doesn't like "drawing attention" to false rape claims, a manifestation of the sexual grievance industry's approach of sticking its head in the sand instead of actually doing something to end the false rape epidemic and, thus, enhancing the integrity of rape claimants.

*Some reporters were interested in the motives of the false rape accusers, presenting their "problems" in a sympathetic light.  For what other crime is this done?

In short, just another day in our false rape society.  Let's examine the specifics of the epidemic:

Samaria Renford

"Ms. Rendford called police after she wrecked her boyfriend's BMW on Rosamond Drive near North Orange Blossom Trail. . . . . The 18-year-old has been arrested after confessing when she was questioned about the details of the case. The arrest report states that Renford told detectives she found her boyfriend cheating on her. So, she took his car and intentionally crashed it.  The report states Renford hoped if her boyfriend found out she was raped, he'd take her back and be nicer to her."  See here

Ms. Renford "allegedly told Orlando Police she had been raped in Rosemont by three men who forced her off the road early Monday morning." See here "She went as far as to describe the suspect as three black males in their 20s wearing black clothing and masks."  See here

So do the police chalk this up as a "false report"?  No. ". . . the case is now considered unfounded."  See here That, of course, illustrates the fact that there is no uniformity in the use of the term "unfounded."  But it often is used synonymously with "false."

Luisa Martinez

"Police said another woman, Luisa Martinez, also made a false claim she was raped on East Pine Street in downtown Orlando."  See here Ms. Martinez is 20 years old. See here

How did the news media report the initial rape report?  WFTV reported it as an actual rape: "Orlando police are searching for a man who raped a woman near Lake Eola early Sunday morning."  And: "Investigators questioned the victim Sunday morning at police headquarters and are still looking for the attacker." (Emphasis added.)  See here

Who was the scary "rapist"? "Orlando police said the suspect is a Hispanic male who was wearing a black shirt and jeans." See here

Lake Eola Rape Report
"A report of a rape near Lake Eola in May was deemed fake after possible suspects were questions. Police are looking to arrest the woman who made that claim." See here For reasons unfathomable, news outlets seem reluctant to publish the woman's name.  See here

We recently reported this case here.
Police Reaction
"Orlando police warned the public Tuesday morning that making a false claim is a crime after they said the 18-year-old woman who claimed she was raped Monday was lying. 'We want victims to continue to report crime, we do not want to spend needless resources chasing ghosts,' Sgt. Art Eld said in a press conference.  Police said false reporting has reached an epidemic level. They said they will arrest anyone who makes a false report about a crime because doing so is against the law. 'False reports cause unnecessary fear in the community,' Eld said.'False reports take personnel away from other calls for service, increasing response time for real victims," Eld said. "It also taints the jury pool in Orange County for true legitimate rape cases.'" See here
(The police officer failed to state the single most damaging aspect of a false rape claim: innocent men and boys are too often arrested, charged, and even convicted for a crime they did not commit.)
"Cops said they don't want to arrest the women, but feel they must. They have the public's support." See here
"Another concern among police and advocates is backlash. Police are worried because of the recent false reports made by Renford and Martinez, other victims won't come forward." See here
Sexual Assault Counselor Reaction
Can you guess?  "Nicole Quinn works with victims of sexual abuse. She said just because a report is considered false doesn't mean something didn't happen or that someone doesn't need help. 'Something traumatic has happened to them to make them come forward and make allegations of sexual assault, and they are usually in some sort of emotional trouble,' Quinn said." See here
The following reaction is even more problematic: "The leader of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence acknowledged that false rape reports make it harder for those who are real victims and also harder for police and others who serve victims.  But Jennifer Dritt said police drawing attention to the false reports doesn't help, either. 'Ninety-two, 98 percent of [rape] reports are truthful, real,' said Dritt, executive director of FCASV, which is based in Tallahassee. 'That's not necessarily any more true than for a case of, say, insurance fraud or burglary. And it makes victims even less inclined to come forward.  It also contributes to the myth that women falsify the rape when they don't.'" See here
Readers of this blog know that the assertions in the previous paragraph are not true.  I wrote to the author of that news article, whose name is Walter Pacheco, and provided him with objectively verifiable information. He has not afforded me the courtesy of a response, or even a "thank you, but I think you're wrong, and here's why."  Mr. Pacheco's full article, and my email to him, appears after the jump.
We long for the day when reporters in major US dailies become something other than stenographers for police and sexual assault counselors when reporting on alleged rape cases or on false rape claims. 

Police: False rape reports cause fear, cost public money, hinder real victims

June 22, 2010

By Walter Pacheco, Orlando Sentinel

Concerned about three recent false rape allegations, Orlando police cautioned residents that lying wastes money, time and keeps real victims from reporting true crimes.

"We want victims to continue to report crimes, but we want real victims," Sgt. Art Eld of the Orlando Police Department's sex crimes division said at a press conference today. "We don't want to spend useful resources chasing ghosts."

Filing false rape reports stirs unnecessary fear in the community, wastes thousands of public dollars and keeps real victims from telling their stories, he said.

Police officials made their plea public Tuesday, a day after 18-year-old Samaria Renford claimed three masked men raped her Monday in Rosemont.

She is the third woman in the past two months to have reported a rape to Orlando police and then recanted, saying they made up the allegation.

Renford acknowledged her false report, telling detectives she "fabricated the incident because she found her boyfriend cheating on her," a police report states. She "hoped that if he discovered she was raped he would take her back and be nicer to her."

Police booked Renford on charges of filing a false police report. Although she paid $500 bail on the charge, she is being held at the Orange County Jail on an outstanding warrant for fraudulent use of a credit card in 2008.

She will be transported to the juvenile detention center, jail spokesman Allen Moore said.

The leader of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence acknowledged that false rape reports make it harder for those who are real victims and also harder for police and others who serve victims.

But Jennifer Dritt said police drawing attention to the false reports doesn't help, either.

"Ninety-two, 98 percent of [rape] reports are truthful, real," said Dritt, executive director of FCASV, which is based in Tallahassee. "That's not necessarily any more true than for a case of, say, insurance fraud or burglary. And it makes victims even less inclined to come forward.

"It also contributes to the myth that women falsify the rape when they don't."

The other two recent cases of false rape reports panicked residents living in downtown Orlando because the women said the attacks happened in popular nighttime spots or areas known as havens for runners, walkers and families.

Luisa Martinez told police on June 13 that a man raped her off Pine Street in downtown Orlando. She made up the story and also faces charges of filing a false report and perjury, according to an arrest warrant.


From: "False Rape Society"

Dear sir,

I founded the nation's leading site that gives voice to victims of false rape claims. You cited in your article on rape the assertion of a sexual assault advocate on the prevalence of false rape claims. She said that "[n]inety-two, 98 percent of [rape] reports are truthful, real . . .."

This is patently absurd, and these sorts of advocacy stats were long ago debunked. To allow that assertion to go unchallenged is unconscionable. (And my reading of her quote suggests that she'd prefer you not even report false rape claim cases, which is just breathtaking.)

You would do well to understand the facts, because false rape claims are a serious issue -- in your area, and everywhere. The following cite objectively verifiable sources that can't be plausibly challenged -- when you look at these, which do not make wild claims, you should be able to tell that they are unbiased. And when you check into what they assert, you will confirm their veracity:

Here is the reality, sir: No one knows for certain the percentage of false rape claims. No one. A leading feminist legal scholar recently acknowledged: ". . . the statistics on false rape accusation widely vary and 'as a scientific matter, the frequency of false rape complaints to police or other legal authorities remains unknown.'" A. Gruber, Rape, Feminism, and the War on Crime, 84 Wash. L. Rev. 581, 595-600 (November 2009) (citation omitted). (Please note: "unknown," sir.)

It is patently erroneous to assert that only a tiny percentage of rape claims are false because no one can make that assertion with any degree of certainty. The prevalence of false rape claims is neither known nor knowable. Here is why: for every rape claim reported, only a relatively small percentage can be definitively called "rape." This is beyond dispute. Approximately fifteen percent end in conviction and of those we know that some innocent men and boys are convicted. We also know that some claims reported (the numbers vary depending on the study) are outright false. But in between the claims we are reasonably certain were actual rapes, and the ones we are reasonably certain were false claims, is a vast gray area consisting of a group of claims that cannot properly be classified as "rapes" -- because we just don't know. That's the nature of a rape claim. The claims in this vast gray middle area often suffer from evidentiary infirmities. (For example, for some such claims, while the claimant herself might think a rape occurred, her outward manifestations of assent did not match her subjective disinclination to engage in sex, so it wasn't rape.) How on earth do people, like the woman you cite, claim the vast majority of these were "rape"? This would mean that she knows, for example, that a man acquitted of rape -- and innumerable men who weren't even charged -- are rapists. How can she say that?

Regardless, every impartial, unbiased objective study on the subject (studies not commissioned or conducted by someone with a financial interest in insisting rape is rampant) shows false rape claims are a very serious problem. As reported by "False Rape Allegations" by Eugene Kanin, Archives of Sexual Behavior Feb 1994 v23 n1 p81 (12), Professor Kanin’s major study of a mid-size Midwestern U.S. city over the course of nine years found that 41 percent of all rape claims were false. Kanin also studied the police records of two unnamed large state universities, and found that in three years, 50 percent of the 64 rapes reported to campus police were determined to be false (without the use of polygraphs). In addition, a landmark Air Force study in 1985 studied 556 rape allegations. It found that 27% of the accusers recanted, and an independent evaluation revealed a false accusation rate of 60%. McDowell, Charles P., Ph.D. “False Allegations.” Forensic Science Digest, (publication of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations), Vol. 11, No. 4 (December 1985), p. 64.

See also, "Until Proven Innocent," the widely praised (praised even by the New York Times, which the book skewers -- as well as most other major U.S. news source) and painstaking study of the Duke Lacrosse non-rape case. Authors Stuart Taylor and Professor K.C. Johnson explain that the exact number of false claims is elusive but "[t]he standard assertion by feminists that only 2 percent" or sexual assault claims "are false, which traces to Susan Brownmiller's 1975 book 'Against Our Will,' is without empirical foundation and belied by a wealth of empirical data. These data suggest that at least 9 percent and probably closer to half" of all sexual assault claims "are false . . . ." (Page 374.)

By the way, you also need to study the government stats these advocate organizations toss your way. You can't just take their word for it. Organizations such as NOW and RAINN rely on the U.S Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey to insist that rape is rampant and largely underreported. What those organizations do not publicize is that this survey, conducted by in-person and telephone interviews, defines rape as follows: "Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. . . . Includes attempted rapes . . . Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape." (Emphasis supplied.) You need to scroll to page 131 out of 133 to find that definition. Putting aside other problems with the definition, "psychological coercion," of course, can mean all manner of things, including "I'll take your mother to the doctors tomorrow if you make love to me tonight," and that is not rape -- in your state, or anywhere else. It is astounding that a government agency allows these issues to become so terribly politicized.

Rape is a serious problem. So are false rape claims -- even though it's terribly politically incorrect to discuss them. We hope that in the future you challenge advocacy stats by making clear that there's not just "another side" to the story -- but that the advocate's stats are unreliable. And please -- please -- don't just take her word for it.

Thank you.


Pierce Harlan