Media Attention Toward Sexual Misconduct Allegations
This week’s news featured developments in two high-profile sexual assault cases. On Wednesday, Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding her allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. On Tuesday, Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in state prison for three counts of sexual assault.
These were the latest in a series of cases involving sexual assault allegations, attributable in part to the #MeToo movement.
Last October, the New York Times published an article accusing Harvey Weinstein of consistently abusing his power and influence in order to sexually harass women in the entertainment industry. This spurred a surge of support for the #MeToo movement – a movement that seeks to shed light on other instances where powerful figures abused their authority to engage in sexual misconduct.
For the next year, accusations of sexual misconduct dominated news. Once-beloved entertainers and public figures with remarkable careers became unemployable virtually overnight, including comedian Louis C.K., actor Kevin Spacey, former news anchor Matt Lauer and former journalist Charlie Rose, and former senator Al Franken.
Because many of the accused were reputable public figures, the #MeToo movement began facing public backlash. Critics have argued that some accusers either exaggerated or lied about their allegations for ulterior purposes.
What Could Motivate False Accusations?
Although false allegations of a sex offenses are rare, they are not unprecedented. According to a 2017 study, about 5% of rape allegations from 2006-2010 were determined to be false or baseless. Although it’s a small number, that figure is “at least five times the proportion of some other crimes,” such as theft, assault, and fraud.
The study noted that robbery was the only other offense with comparable rates of false or baseless accusations. The study attributed it to an underlying incentive for insurance fraud.
But what could incentivize unfounded allegations of sexual assault? Another study from the US National Institutes of Health suggests that false allegations of rape are motivated by personal gain, a disturbed mental state, or a combination of both. Examples of this include the Duke Lacrosse case, and the Hofstra University rape case
In 2006, Crystal Mangum accused three Duke University students on the men’s lacrosse team of rape. Over time, investigators discovered problems with Mangum’s allegations, which severely undermined her credibility and contributed to the case being dismissed. Mangum also had a history of mental disease and criminal activity. Years later, on November 22, 2013, Mangum was convicted of second-degree murder for killing her boyfriend.
In 2009, Dammell Ndonye accused fellow Hofstra University students, Rondell Bedward and his four friends, of gang rape. Days later, a video of Ndonye with the accused depicted her consenting to sex. Ndonye responded by admitting that the encounter was consensual, but lied about it so her boyfriend wouldn’t think she was unfaithful.
What’s interesting about these cases is that there was already some underlying sexual activity between the accusers and the accused. But the character of that sexual activity is what made the difference between freedom and jail time for the accused.
What to Do If Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault
Sex crimes are very serious offenses that deserve serious attention. In a previous post, we outlined the necessary steps for addressing false accusations of sexual assault. Because of the recent media attention and public derision associated with sexual misconduct allegations, a mere accusation alone could lead to lasting repercussions for your personal and professional reputation without regard to the accusation’s merits.
The first step for addressing false allegations of a sex crime is to retain experienced criminal defense counsel at the early stages of an investigation. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you understand the legal implications of your case. It is also crucial to keep an accurate record of events and witnesses. Because false allegations are often motivated by personal gain or mental illness, it is important that your attorney connect you with credible experts who can get to the truth about your accuser.
If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault or any other sex offense, contact Turco & Draskovich online or by phone at (702) 381-6590 to schedule an appointment with a Las Vegas sex crime defense attorney today.