Michael Lowe is Celebrating Over 20 YEARS of Service

Learn More

Unjustly Accused of Sexual Assault: When Rape Allegations Aren’t True There’s Still a Victim

Rapes and sexual assaults do happen in here in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, as they do all around the State of Texas, and these are horrible, life-changing events for the victims (both men and women). However, as criminal defense lawyers who represents people accused of rape and sexual assault know well, there is the other truth that is just as painful: there are men (and women) wrongfully accused of rape — and once that accusation is made, they are also victimized and often suffer permanent harm.

The stigma of having someone finger-point you and cry “rape” can be enough to tarnish and mar someone’s reputation for life. It’s a life-changer. This is particularly unjust when the victim is a young person, maybe someone going to college at a Texas university, who lives under that cloud and will face unfair assumptions of their character which can be almost impossible to fix.

Falsely Accused of Rape: How Big is the Problem?

How often are people falsely accused of rape? Ask a lot of people, and they’ll tell you it’s a low number. There’s a common presumption that whenever an accusation is made, that the alleged victim is highly likely to be telling the truth because marking themselves as a victim of rape is rarely done unless rape has happened.

However, there are those that refute that presumption. In one Purdue University study, the percentage of false accusations was found to be 41%. That’s almost HALF. (See, Kanin, Eugene J., “False Rape Allegations”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 23, No. 1, Feb 1994, p. 81.)

Add to this the basic concept of our criminal justice system, that anyone accused is innocent until proven guilty. Those accused of sexual assault and rape often do not get this presumption of doubt, they are immediately convicted by opinion.

Publicized Cases of Victims of False Rape Claims

Recent public media coverage serves to highlight this truth. Consider the following cases regarding allegations of rape:

1. Discredited Allegations of Gang Rape at UVA in Rolling Stone Magazine

It was a blogger named Richard Bradley (formerly with George Magazine) who originally questioned the veracity of the Rolling Stone article detailing a purported gang rape at the University of Virginia. Now we know that “Jackie’s story” has been refuted and Rolling Stone has issued not one, but two, apologies for reporting a story that the magazine admits was not fact-checked and was never substantiated.

Read Rolling Stone’s 2nd apology here.   Key: no one checked with the UVA men accused of rape before the Rolling Stone story was published.

Now, after the university reacted by doing things like punishing the entire Greek system, we have arguments about whether or not there is a “rape culture” in the United States in publications like the New York Times.

Is it “negligent of the rights of the accused”??? posits NYT.

2. Challenged Rape Allegations by alleged rapist “Barry One” in Lena Durham memoir

After Lena Durham alleged she was raped in college by someone she identified only as “Barry One” and described as a “mustachioed campus Republican” there was an investigation by Breitbart News that questioned whether or not this was true. Given that the description of the accused was sufficient for people to identify him, Barry is reported to have contacted Durham and asked to protect his reputation from harm by correcting things.

Nothing happened, and now his attorney has issued a new release that explains “Barry One” not only has set up a fund for proceeds to cover his legal fees and costs need to clear his name from this harm, but also to potentially file a lawsuit against Lena Dunham and her publisher, Penguin Random House. If he has any money left over, it will be donated to charity.

Will we be seeing an apology soon from Penguin Random House that is similar in vein to the Rolling Stone apology? Hmmm.

3. Infamous Wrongful Accusations of Rape of the Duke LaCrosse Team

It wasn’t that long ago that the three men on the lacrosse team at Duke University in North Carolina were wrongfully accused of rape. The lacrosse team was suspended from play; their coach was forced to resign. The prosecutor took to the press suggesting it was a “hate crime” since the alleged victim was African American and the men accused of rape were white. This case garnered world-wide attention and the three individuals were assumed by many to be rapists awaiting conviction as a formality.

The truth was that these three students did not rape anyone. A year after the allegations were made public, the three men were publicly confirmed as innocent of the charges, and it was admitted that they were victims of a “tragic rush to accuse.” The prosecutor, Michael Nifong, ended up losing his law license over the event. The woman who falsely accused the men was never charged with anything.

4. Bill Cosby Trial by Media In Progress

Currently, almost two dozen women have come forward to claim that comedian Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them. There will be no criminal charges filed against Mr. Cosby since the statute of limitations has expired on these allegations. One case, where the alleged rape occurred in the 1970s, has been filed based upon defamation. Bill Cosby may be filing suit here, too – he already has a lawyer who is refuting the claims with facts like dates that don’t jive.

Today, most people are assuming that Bill Cosby is guilty and he’s been harmed. His career has been hurt, his reputation damaged. Even if should prove to be true that Bill Cosby did not rape these women, he’s been permanently harmed. No “innocent until convicted” here – there has been a trial by media of Bill Cosby.

Wrongfully Accused of Rape – What Can You Do?

Today, if someone is suggesting that you sexually assaulted them, then there’s no time to waste in defending yourself against these allegations. Rumors are like wildfire, and once the gossip spreads that X was raped by Y, the damage to your reputation is building on what may be a daily or even hourly basis.

The reality is that gossip hurts the person who has been accused of rape first. If there is a formal investigation, or even an arrest, then that juggernaut only builds. Regardless of the truth. Regardless of the constitutional protection that you are to be viewed as “innocent until proven guilty.”

It’s important for those who have been wrongfully accused of rape or sexual assault to aggressively and quickly act to defend themselves. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help not only in the fight in the legal arena to refute the allegations with facts and evidence, but also to defend your reputation out there in the trenches of gossip and social media.

That’s not all. Today, more and more victims of false accusations of rape or sexual assault are filing civil lawsuits based upon Title IX (the federal law making sexual discrimination illegal) alleging discrimination on the basis of sex. Here, the wrongfully accused sues the person who falsely accused him in a civil action seeking financial damages for what has been done to him (or her).

______________________

For more information, read my article on the Top 10 Mistakes That Are Made in Defense of Sexual Assault and Indecency With a Child Cases

To learn more about Texas Sex Crimes, check out our resources page.

For case results of Michael Lowe in defending those accused of rape or sexual assault, see his Case Results.


Comments are welcomed here and I will respond to you -- but please, no requests for personal legal advice here and nothing that's promoting your business or product. Comments are moderated and these will not be published.