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11% Falsely Accused of Abuse, Survey Shows
WASHINGTON / June 2, 2011 – A national survey of 10,000 Americans reveals 11% report they have been falsely accused of abuse. The first-ever survey of its type probed persons’ first-hand experiences with false allegations of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. The study was commissioned by Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, a victim advocacy organization.
The survey results headlined a False Allegations Summit, which was held today at the Fairfax Hotel in Washington, DC.
Conducted May 2-4, 2011, the survey also found 15% of respondents personally knew someone who has been falsely accused of abuse. In 81% of the cases the falsely accused person was a male, and in 70% of cases the false alleger was a female. Twenty-six percent of the wrongful accusations were made in the context of a child custody dispute.
“This survey shows tens of millions of Americans have been falsely accused of abuse,” explains SAVE spokesperson Natasha Spivack, “These persons were stamped with the scarlet Abuser label, leaving them to wonder whatever happened to the notion of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.”
The Summit featured statements by leading stakeholder organizations, including the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Home School Legal Defense Association, American Coalition for Fathers and Children, National Coalition for Men, and Encounters International.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers statement spotlighted the “immense, often irreparable harm caused to our clients by false allegations, not only to reputation and personal relationships, but often to the accused individual’s livelihood and even heath.”
The Summit also included the emotion-wrought testimonies by four victims of false allegations of abuse.
The False Allegations Summit is being held in the wake of a recent Washington Post front-page article about Sean Lanigan, a local school teacher who was falsely accused of sexual molestation by a 12-year-old student. The article triggered editorial commentaries and citizens’ expressions of disbelief and outrage.
The full survey results can be viewed here: http://www.saveservices.org/false-allegations-awareness-month/survey-results/. The False Allegations Summit is the kick-off to False Allegations Awareness Month in June. More information on the observance can be found here: http://www.saveservices.org/false-allegations-awareness-month/.
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner abuse: www.saveservices.org