Why do some people falsely accuse others of rape?

| Dec 8, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

Most women who say they have been raped are telling the truth. Study after study supports this. Yet there are some cases in which the women—or men—who accuse others of rape are lying.

In recent years, men have become increasingly concerned about these lies. This may be thanks to the attention given to things like the #MeToo movement, the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh and the recent movie about Brian Banks, who was falsely accused of rape. Though he was later exonerated, his story may leave us asking: How can we tell when someone’s lying?

Who are the liars?

A 2017 article in Quartz took a close look at false rape allegations. As most other articles do, it began by pointing out that most rape charges are real. However, it then went on to look at the sorts of people who lie about rape and the reasons they do it.

Interestingly, the article noted that while the victims of rape don’t fit any specific “type” or “types,” the liars do. Adults who falsely accuse others of rape often:

  • Have a record of other lies or fraud
  • Are involved in criminal activities
  • Have family or friends who are criminals
  • Are trapped in broken lives

The article also noted that nearly half of all false rape allegations are made by someone other than the victim. For example, a teen might say she was raped in order to avoid getting in trouble with her parents, and her parents might call the police.

Four common motivations

The article claimed that most false allegations were made for one of four different reasons. These include:

  • Personal gain. The accusers may hope for either a financial reward or some other benefit.
  • The accuser is mentally ill. The person may either believe in the delusion or simply feel compelled to invent lies.
  • Revenge. The article noted that this revenge is rarely about romantic rejection. Instead, the liar could be seeking revenge for almost any perceived wrong.
  • To avoid other trouble. Teens may hope to avoid trouble with their parents. Spouses may lie to conceal their acts of infidelity.

The article also made an interesting point about the types of stories the false accusers used. The accusers who were lying often told big lies—about clearly aggravated rapes. They rarely told stories that involved any gray area.

Facing false allegations

False rape allegations are rare, but they happen. Because it’s rare for victims to lie, defendants may be concerned the courts and juries will be instantly biased against them. But a good defense lawyer can help pull apart the false accuser’s story to separate fact from fiction.