Contact: Teri Stoddard
White House Report Downplays False Allegations of Rape, Artificially Inflates the Numbers, SAVE Asserts
WASHINGTON / January 24, 2014 – A leading victim-advocacy group is charging the recent White House report, Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action (1), ignores the growing problem of false allegations and relies on inflated rape statistics. Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) calls on the Obama Administration to fulfill its promise of policymaking based on science, not ideological persuasion.
Three peer-reviewed studies have found the rate of false accusations of rape ranges from 41% to 60% (2). A recent study of prisoners convicted on sexual assault charges found 15% of the cases lacked a DNA match to the victim (3).
Ironically, the White House report was released just days after a Michigan judge sentenced Sarah Ylen to five years in prison for falsely accusing two men of raping her, labeling Ylen’s actions “diabolical” (4).
But the problem of false allegations is ignored by the White House report.
The report makes the claim that one in five women has been raped during her lifetime. But a fine-print footnote reveals many of these women were actually subjected to “attempted,” not “completed” rapes. The category of “attempted” rapes is particularly susceptible to the problem of false allegations, SAVE believes.
More worrisome is the fact that nearly half of the “rape” victims were involved in what the report terms “alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration.” This broad category encompasses consensual intercourse following a carefree New Year’s Eve celebration, and could even apply to a newly married couple consummating their vows. With such broad definitions, most American adults could become classified as a “rapist” or “rape victim,” SAVE worries.
These elastic definitions can be traced to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control project called the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSVS). The survey has been the focus of repeated criticism.
Columnist Christina Hoff-Sommers has charged the NIPSVS exemplifies “advocacy research” that can lead to “recklessly misguided” conclusions (5). SAVE sent a 12-page complaint to the Centers for Disease Control in 2012, saying the report was riddled with “biases, misrepresentations, and other flaws.” (6).
Knowing that half of the cases in the CDC report do not meet any common-sense definition of rape, and about half of all rape allegations turn out to be false, the actual incidence of rape is closer to 5%, not 20%.
Five percent is an unacceptably high number, SAVE believes, and calls on all sectors of society to respond to the problem. But the White House 20% figure defies reason and undermines the credibility of the nation’s efforts to end rape, SAVE asserts.
“No woman should have to fear rape, and no man should have to live in fear of a false accusation of rape,” notes SAVE spokesperson Sheryle Hutter. “But ignoring the problem of false allegations and inflating the numbers only invite ridicule, confusion, and doubt.”
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to domestic violence and sexual assault: www.saveservices.org