Contact: Gina Lauterio
High-Profile Lawsuits Reveal Problem of False Allegations of Sexual Assault, SAVE Says
WASHINGTON / May 20, 2015 – Recent lawsuits arising from alleged incidents of campus sexual assault are renewing long-standing concerns about the problem of false accusations. In recent weeks, three high-profile lawsuits have been filed involving students or administrators at major universities.
In late April, student Paul Nungesser charged in a lawsuit that Columbia University collaborated in a campaign of harassment against him when accuser Emma Sulkowicz launched her nationally publicized “mattress” campaign, even though the Columbia U. disciplinary committee found no wrong-doing and local police declined to pursue the case.
On May 8, former Florida State University student Jameis Winston filed a lawsuit against accuser Erica Kinsman, saying her allegations of sexual assault were “false, defamatory … and have maliciously and impermissibly interfered with Mr. Winston’s business and personal relationships.” Winston had been cleared of the assault charges in three separate investigations.
The following week, University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo filed an $8 million lawsuit against Rolling Stone for portraying her as indifferent to a student’s claims of sexual victimization. The lawsuit described the avant-garde magazine as a “malicious publisher who was more concerned about selling magazines to boost the economic bottom line for its faltering magazine, than they were about discovering the truth or actual facts.”
A recent Inside Higher Ed article notes that accused men are now relying on the federal Title IX law to buttress the claim that the campus arbitration process was biased against them because of their sex: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/05/01/students-accused-sexual-assault-struggle-win-gender-bias-lawsuits
“False accusations can leave life-long effects on the wrongfully accused, and harm the credibility of future rape victims as well,” notes SAVE spokesperson Sheryl Hutter. “Lawmakers need to find solutions to this epidemic of wrongful allegations which is creating a new class of victims.”
One major study found 41% of campus sexual assault claims were determined to be untrue: http://sf-criminaldefense.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/KaninFalseRapeAllegations.pdf
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is working to promote effective solutions to the problem of campus sexual assault: http://www.saveservices.org/