16-year-old girl convicted following “false rape allegation”

// 25 January 2011

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stop rape road signThis rather alarming piece in the Guardian describes how a girl took a boy to court accusing him of raping her when she was 15 and he 14. She has now been convicted for perverting the source of justice, after the judge decided that she lied about the rape.

The report does not contain many details, but it says the prosecution accused her of changing her story and of holding hands with the boy the day after the alleged rape. Her story was initially that there was just the two of them in the room, which later changed to the two of them and two of his friends; this could be read as evidence of a lie, or as a reflection of her shame/embarrassment at the situation, of her emotional trauma and confusion, or any number of other things. And the fact that she held hands with him doesn’t mean he didn’t rape her. Maybe she was scared of him. Maybe she wanted to try and make it feel like the sexual activity was consensual. Again, there are all sorts of potential explanations.

We don’t know the full picture, but this case frightens me. How exactly did the judge manage to conclude that the girl consented to sex with the boy, unless she was in the room at the time? The idea that it is hard to convict the accused because many rape cases come down to his word against hers doesn’t seem to work the other way. Not when the media’s beloved image of woman as liar, man as innocent victim with everything to lose is so tempting.

See also: Gail Sherwood.

Image by Shera Golding, shared under a Creative Commons licence.

Comments From You

Kristin // Posted 26 January 2011 at 12:04 am

When I was a teenager I had a friend who was threatened with a charge of mischief when the cops decided that they didn’t believer her rape report. They said to her, “I believe something happened but I don’t think it was this” and proceeded to tell her she could be charged with filing a false report.

A few years later, in an adjacent small town, I met a woman who had been raped by the older man she had been teaching to read. When she reported the rape she found out that her rapist was buddies with the police chief and wound up being charged with filing a false report.

It’s appalling, it’s terrifying, it’s sadly not surprising to this jaded survivor.

Sarah Kate // Posted 26 January 2011 at 12:08 am

Oh my goodness, I’m pretty much speechless. This makes me so angry and upset. How can this happen?!! I know the details of the case are limited but based on the details available (and therefore the impression that most people will have of this case) the message it gives to victims of rape/sexual assault is just completely, horrendously heartbreaking. I’m so sick and tired of this :o(

spiralsheep // Posted 26 January 2011 at 1:49 am

While I find the right-wing media reaction to this case is as problematic as ever, googling doesn’t reveal any immediately obvious previous problems with the judge, and sentence hasn’t been passed yet.

Some sample cases:

http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/news/Girl-punched-face/article-2918901-detail/article.html

http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/news/Man-accused-rape-appears-court/article-2869542-detail/article.html

http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/news/Sex-case-man-stand-trial/article-2796324-detail/article.html

Unless someone else has more facts?

Astrid // Posted 26 January 2011 at 11:51 am

I’ve read up a lot on allegedly false accusations of rape and sexual abuse, and none of what I’ve read covers the complex issues facing victims of these crimes. I can see the point in protecting the alleged perp from a false conviction, but girls and women are accused of lying too quickly in this kind of case.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 26 January 2011 at 12:07 pm

I note the judge referred to the most common rape myth by claiming the young woman was afraid she might have become pregnant. Furthermore the CPS does not proceed to prosecute any male with rape unless the CPS believes the evidence is such that a conviction is 60-65% likely to result in conviction. This is far higher than the requirement for any other criminal charge.

It is common for most female rape survivors to ‘change their statement’ due to a number of factors including rightful fears their behaviour will be minutely scrutinised in order to hold them accountable rather than the male perpetrator. So many female survivors will not disclose all the evidence immediately and too, they commonly cannot immediately recall every detail, but the male-centric legal system demands an instanteous 100% accurate recall in order to prove a male(s) has/have committed rape.

If the judge believed the evidence was not sufficient to convict then she should have ordered an acquittal not charge the young woman with perjury based solely on her adherence to rape myths.

Note too false rape allegations are far, far lower than fraudulent car insurance claims. Note also one third of teenage girls are subjected to male sexual violence and this is committed by their boyfriends/male friends/male relatives etc.

Instead another young woman has been charged with perjury and the message all males will receive is that their pseudo sex right to women and girls is upheld by the male created and male centric legal system. Male sexual coercion and pressure against females is never ‘violence’ but simply normal male heterosexual behaviour!

See below for links to false rape reporting and intimate male sexual violence against teenage girls.

http://www.nspcc.org.uk/inform/research/findings/partner_exploitation_and_violence_report_wdf70129.pdf

http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/the_voice_vol_3_no_1_2009.pdf

gherkinette // Posted 27 January 2011 at 7:21 pm

Does this mean that as well as having to overcome the trauma of a rape and dealing with the courts and police, this young woman will also have a criminal record hanging over her head as she tries to move on with life?

Words fail me.

Average? // Posted 4 February 2011 at 1:02 am

The first thing to note is that, at least in the detail, she did deliberately lie and hence is guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Next we must consider that there are very little details released, and to jump on a ‘Daily Mail’ damnation band-wagon with a lack of knowledge is very dangerous, particularly when it’s one person’s word against another.

To conclude I’d like to ask what the consequences would have been had he been convicted if he is in fact innocent. He would have served a jail sentence, hatred or mistrust from those that knew him and of course ruined his future with regard to both his criminal record, but perhaps more importantly – his conscience.

I don’t mean for these comments to be pro or anti feminist, nor offensive. Rape is a terrible crime and I can understand much of the strong sentiment in the comments so far.

Laura // Posted 13 February 2011 at 12:21 pm

@Average – I wasn’t suggesting that he should have been convicted, but that if it was just a case of one person’s word against another’s, she shouldn’t have been either.

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