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The Hunting Ground: ‘No Insensitive Questions’

“We don’t operate the same way as journalists — this is a film project very much in the corner of advocacy for victims, so there would be no insensitive questions or the need to get the perpetrator’s side” — THG co-producer Amy Herdy

The Hunting Ground, a film about campus sexual assault that was released in 2015, purported to be a factual documentary. In truth, The Hunting Ground was misleading and dishonest. Relying on the testimonies of dozens of young women across the country, the movie promoted an over-wrought “rape-culture” narrative.

Moviegoers weren’t impressed — the movie received a rating of only 6.2 out of 10 stars. During its four-month box office run, the total revenues were only $405,000.  Clearly, The Hunting Ground  never lived up to its expectation of becoming a “stirring call to action.” Worse, the movie has served to discredit legitimate efforts to curb campus rape.

Nineteen Harvard University professors have denounced the film as “propaganda” that is “one-sided” and “biased.” The Hunting Ground assaults the truth in six ways:

  1. Makes the claim that up to one-in-five college women are sexually assaulted, even though the U.S. Department of Justice reports a woman’s risk is less than one percent (0.61%) each year.
  2. Features three women whose claims of sexual assault were later discredited:
    • Kamilah Willingham of Harvard University, who claimed she had been sexually assaulted after a night of drinking. Willingham was later found to have fabricated evidence — a bloody condom that did not match the DNA of the alleged assailant. Her assailant’s only “crime” was to wake her up the next morning in order to kiss her. More information on the case can be seen HERE.
    • Erica Kinsman of Florida State University, who was later found to have “overwhelming, well-documented credibility problems,” and who has been sued for allegedly seeking to extract a $7 million settlement from NFL top draft pick Jameis Winston.
    • Emma Sulkowicz of Columbia University whose alleged assailant was repeatedly found “not responsible” by the university’s disciplinary committee. Sulkowicz’s account has been found to lack credibility, and her alleged assailant has filed a lawsuit against the university.
  3. Highlights the testimony of psychologist David Lisak, who has promoted the claim that 90% of campus rapes are committed by serial offenders who average six rapes each. But it turns out his research is deeply flawedLisak’s 2002 article does not indicate whether the victims were enrolled in college, or even whether the assault took place on a college campus.
  4. Repeatedly omits the word “alleged,” thus confusing an accusation of sexual assault with a proven case. The producers did not offer a meaningful opportunity for the accused to respond to the charges, as any fair-minded documentary would do.
  5. Does not interview any men falsely accused of rape, and neglects to highlight the growing number of lawsuits filed against universities charging wrongful expulsion.
  6. Claims that only 2-8% of rape allegations are false, neglecting to mention the study that found 41% of campus rape claims were false. And fails to highlight the large number of unsubstantiated rape cases — 52% in one recent study — where there isn’t enough evidence to determine either way whether or not the allegation is true.

To its credit, The Hunting Ground does highlight how universities are doing a woeful job in handling felony-level sexual assault cases. Unfortunately, the producers do not take the logical step of calling for these cases to be turned over to criminal justice authorities.


SAVE has produced two videos on the factual errors and omissions of The Hunting Ground: