False Allegations of Crime A false allegation, or a false report, is a false statement, accusation or complaint to authorities alleging a crime that did not occur. In most jurisdictions, this is itself a crime. In such cases, the alleged victim is actually a criminal offender subject to legal consequences. While the potential categories for false reports are quite large, this chapter discusses false allegations of sexual assault and abduction – the types of crime representing the majority of false reports.
False Allegations of Crime False Allegations of Abduction –False allegations of abduction serve the same purpose as other false reports, including alibi, sympathy, profit, deflection of responsibility, etc. –There appears to be more community and professional willingness to prosecute false reports of abduction than of rape.
False Allegations of Crime False Allegations of Sexual Assault –The professional literature on the subject of false reports remains scarce. –There have been very few studies conducted to ascertain false report rates or percentages. –This is due to the fact that many researchers fear being maligned, black-listed, or threatened with sanctions should their findings not be politically acceptable.
The Literature Politicians, victims advocates, and new articles claim that the nationwide false report rate for rape and sexual assault is almost nonexistent, citing a figure around 2%. However, there is no published study or data to support any claim that this number is accurate.
The Literature The rate of false reporting for rape varies from city to city, from state to state, and from region to region. The FBIs national average, which includes only reporting police agencies, suggests a false report rate of around 8%. Given other contextual support for higher rates of false reporting throughout the country, this should be viewed as the most conservative estimate.
Red Flags Dietz and Hazelwood proposed twenty false report red flags that have appeared in false allegations cases. The authors believe that some red flags have investigative value under the right conditions. However, many of them are too vague and subjective to be of use on their own.
Review of Victim Report The interview with an alleged victim of sexual assault is perhaps the most vital part of a sex crimes investigators effort to establish the facts of a case. –Unfortunately, it is common for even seasoned investigators to accept an alleged victims statement or story without question or suspicion. The interviewer should confront the alleged victim with any contradictions between his or her statements and the physical evidence. –Any contradictions need to be explained by the victim, not the interviewer.
The BAFRI The BAFRI (Baeza False Report Index) is a list of red flags for false reporting, each indicating the need for further investigation. They can and will exist in legitimate cases, but when these elements present, they must be examined, understood, and explained. This index should be used as a guide only. These red flags suggest only the possibility that the allegations may be false and that further investigation is needed.
The BAFRI 1.A female victim has demanded to speak with a female officer of investigator. 2.A female victims husband, boyfriend, or other intimate partner has forced her to report the alleged crime, rather than having reported the crime of her own volition. 3.A victims parents have forced her to report the alleged crime, rather than having reported the crime of her own volition. 4.A victim, most often under age, has returned home after his or her curfew. 5.A victim states that he or she was abducted at a busy intersection during the day. And there are no witnesses to the incident.
The BAFRI 6.A victim stated that he or she was attacked by a masked offender in the middle of the day on a busy street. 7.A victim is in a drug rehabilitation program and is out past curfew. 8.A pregnant female victim is forced by a parent or guardian to report the crime to police. 9.A victim cannot describe the suspect nor provide details of the crime. 10.A victim has previously been charged with falsely reporting an incident.
The BAFRI 11.A victim has previously reported a similar crime to police. 12.A victim focuses on relocating to a new home or apartment during the investigation. 13.A victim focuses on initiating a lawsuit or on monetary gain during the investigation. 14.A victim displays TV behavior when initiating a complaint, mimicking the way that stereotypical victims act on television and in film. 15.The victim cries at crucial points in the interview to avoid answering key questions. 16.The victim has a long psychiatric history.
False Reports of Crime One of the authors of this chapter, McGrath, suggests conceptualizing the assessment of a false report as a three-pronged approach: reviewing behavioral, linguistic, and physical evidence in an attempt to determine the credibility of the allegation.
Motivations of False Reports Revenge – the act of inflicting harm on others in return for harm suffered at their hands, direction, or by their complicity Need for attention Medical treatment Profit – emotional, material, or financial gain Failure of costumer to pay or adequately compensate a sex worker Explanation for loss of virginity, pregnancy, or sexually transmitted disease
Motivations of False Reports Alibi for inappropriate absence New housing Child custody Attempt to veil a reoccurrence of drug or alcohol use Change of heart after a consensual sexual encounter