Advertisement

Understanding False Allegations of Sexual Assault

  • William T. O’Donohue
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter explores several issues related to false allegations of sexual assault. The definition of a false allegation varies and it is not clear if the field has done research of sufficient quality to accurately determine the rates of false allegations. Moreover, although several issues have proposed pathways to false allegations of sexual assault, more research is needed to determine the extent to which these pathways occur in actual cases. This chapter also deals with the logic of the use of false allegation rates to determine if a particular allegation is true and suggests a much more nuanced question, that is, What are the rates of false allegations (and true and undetermined cases), judged by what evidentiary standard (e.g., preponderance of evidence, clear and convincing evidence, beyond reasonable doubt, etc.), by what operational definitions of false (e.g., recantations, medical evidence), in what population, with what other relevant characteristics (e.g., mental health diagnoses, past history of lying) with what sampling limitations (e.g., nonrandom convenience sample), made against whom (ex-lover, stranger, current partner), during what time period (e.g., 1960–1965), in what stage of the forensic process (e.g., court trial), with what interrater-reliability, with what possible researcher bias or general error rate?

Keywords

False allegations Rates Pathways Rape Lying Mental disorders 

References

  1. Campbell, T. W. (1992). False allegations of sexual abuse and their apparent credibility. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 10(4), 21–35.Google Scholar
  2. Dezutter, A. Horselenberg, R. & van Koopen, P. (2018). Motivations for filing a false allegation of rape. Archives of sexual behavior, 47, 457–464.Google Scholar
  3. DeZutter, A. Z., & Horselenberg, R. (2018). Motives for filing a false allegation of rape. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47, 457–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Engle, J., & O'Donohue, W. (2012). Pathways to false allegations of sexual assault. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 12, 97–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Foa E. B, Cahill S. P, Smelser N. L, Bates P. B. (2001). Psychological therapies: Emotional processing. International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences; Oxford: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  6. Ferguson, C. E., & Malouf, J. M. (2016). Assessing police classifications of sexual assault reports: A meta-analysis of false reporting rates. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45, 1185–1193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Goodyear-Smith, F. (2016). In R. Burnett (Ed.),. Wrongful allegations of sexual and child abuse Why and how false allegations of abuse occur: An overview (pp. 304–333). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Greenfeld, L. A. (1997). Sex offenses and offenders: An analysis of data on rape and sexual assault. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.Google Scholar
  9. Gross, B. (2009). False rape allegations: An assault on justice. Forensic Examiner, 18(1), 66.Google Scholar
  10. Harris, J., & Grace, S. (1999). A question of evidence? Investigating and prosecuting rape in the 1990s. London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  11. Hunt, L., & Bull, R. (2012). Differentiating genuine and false rape allegations: A model to aid rape investigations. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 19, 682–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. International Association of Chiefs of Police. (2015). Sexual Assault Response Policy and Training Content Guidelines. Alexandria, VA: International Association of Chiefs of Police.Google Scholar
  13. Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (Eds.). (2000). Choices, values and frames. New York: Cambridge University Press and the Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  14. Kanin, E. J. (1994). False rape allegations. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 23, 81–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kelly, L. (2010). The (in)credible words of women: False allegations in European rape research. Violence Against Women, 16, 1345–1355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kelly, L., Lovett, J., & Regan, L. (2005). A gap or a chasm. Attrition in reported rape cases. London: Home Office.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Koss, M. P., Gidycz, C. A., & Wisniewski, N. (1987). The scope of rape: incidence and prevalence of sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of higher education students. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55(2), 162–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lisak, D., Gardinier, L., Nicksa, S. C., & Cote, A. M. (2010). False allegations of sexual assault: An analysis of ten years of reported cases. Violence Against Women, 16, 1318–1334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lovett, J., & Kelly, L. (2009). Different systems, similar outcomes? Tracking attrition in reported rape cases across Europe. London, UK: Child and Women Abuse Studies Unit London Metropolitan University.Google Scholar
  20. Meehl, P. E. (2013). Clinical versus statistical prediction. New York: Echo Point.Google Scholar
  21. O’Donohue, W., Cummings, C., & Willis, B. (2018). The frequency of false allegations of child sexual abuse: A critical review. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 27(5), 459–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. O’Donohue, W. T., Cirlugea, O., Bennett, N., & Benuto, L. (2015). Psychological and investigative pathways to untrue allegations of child sexual abuse. In W. O’Donohue & M. Fanetti (Eds.), Forensic interview with children who may have been sexually abused. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  23. Romney, P. N. (2006). False allegations of rape. The Cambridge Law Journal, 65, 128–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Smith, S. G., Chen, J., Basile, K. C., Gilbert, L. K., Merrick, M. T., Patel, N., … Jain, A. (2017). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010–2012 State Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Google Scholar
  25. Stewart, C. H. (1981). A retrospective survey of alleged sexual assault cases. Police Surgeon, 28, 32–35.Google Scholar
  26. Theilade, P., & Thomsen, J. L. (1986). False allegations of rape. Police Surgeon, 30, 17–22.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • William T. O’Donohue
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NevadaRenoUSA

Personalised recommendations