SAVE, a victim advocacy organization, says the new procedures will foster false allegations, thus squandering scare resources and weakening the credibility of victims. A growing number of judges and others assert false allegations harm victims (1).
In March the University of Montana issued a Sexual Assault Report that equated accusers with victims, thus weakening the presumption of innocence for the accused. The document also sidestepped the problem of false allegations.
The University’s efforts to educate students about sexual assault convey a distorted picture, the SAVE letter also charges. The videos claim that only 2% of rape accusations are false. But a legal analysis of that claim concluded the 2% false-rape figure “has no basis in fact” (2).
The university-approved videos teach students that “guilt-tripping” before sex constitutes sexual assault — an idea that weakens the notion of rape as a reprehensible and tragic crime, SAVE says.
“Rape victims often say they do not report the crime because they worry law enforcement will not take their claim seriously,” explains SAVE spokesman Steve Blake. “The University of Montana’s policies serve to trivialize the meaning of rape, encourage false allegations of sexual assault, and ultimately harm true rape victims.”
SAVE is requesting the university to remove the misleading videos from its website and restore the presumption of innocence in sex assault cases.
Some of the University of Montana’s new policies are based on a Sexual Assault Directive from the U.S. Department of Education. The American Association of University Professors and 12 other organizations have called for removal of the federal policy (3). Over 65 editorials have criticized the mandate as unduly restricting due process rights (4).
The University of Montana letter is available on the SAVE website (5).
(2) Greer E. The truth behind legal dominance feminism’s “two percent false rape claim” figure. 33 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 947 (2000)
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner violence: www.saveservices.org.