"[A] woman was attacked," intoned the first sentence of Tyler, Texas' KYTX in a news report posted yesterday morning.
The story continued: "The victim"--note: not the "accuser"--"said she was attacked in the parking lot by a black male, about 5'10", of medium build, about 30 years old, with 1 to 1 ½ inch Afro hair, wearing a blue Mavericks shirt and black denim shorts."
The short news report proceeded to refer to the accuser as the "victim" two more times. Then the story asked anyone with information to call the police.
The comments by readers under the original story stated: "Predators just look for people who are vulnerable..." And: "What a tragic thing to happen...no one should have to go through what this innocent woman faced...safety is just a myth these days, though vigilant, we are all vulnerable to someone who is determined to do us harm. God bless this woman, and may the man who did this to her pay with years behind bars, never to do this to another woman again!"
In fact, the report was false. A later story stated: "Update: Tyler Police released a statement to the media today concerning this case: 'Investigators have determined that the victim had not been sexually assaulted as she reported to police early this morning. Investigators continue to look into the details surrounding this case and its validity.'" See here: http://www.cbs19.tv/story/15184634/tyler-police-searching-for-a-sexual-assault-suspect (What does that last sentence mean when read in conjunction with the previous sentece?)
The story is disturbing on several levels. It is disturbing because the initial news reports treated a rape accusation as an actual rape. It is also disturbing because the initial report targeted a male of a specific description (as happens so often, the imaginary rapist was black). It is also disturbing that a woman lied about a rape. Fortunately, no one was actually raped.
The analysis we posted yesterday in connection with a different story is directly on point here: http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/2011/07/news-report-of-rape-that-turned-out-to.html
We live in a world fraught with danger. Is it too much to ask that our news media not foment rape hysteria by rushing to judgment and telling us rapes occurred when they didn't?