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Raped, Then Jailed: The Risks of Prosecution for Falsely Reporting Sexual Assault

This Training Bulletin focuses on the scenario where victims summon the courage to report a sexual assault, only to be disbelieved, mistreated, and later charged (often erroneously) with false reporting or associated crimes such as obstruction of justice, interfering with law enforcement, or providing false statements. Some have even been charged with a felony crime of evidence tampering, for obtaining a medical forensic examination. In other words, the evidence they are accused of tampering with is their very own body. We explain how these scenarios unfold, highlighting factors that distinguish an interview conducted with a victim versus a suspect in a criminal investigation, and documents how this can result in a coerced recantation or false confession. We then conclude with a discussion of how these injustices can be prevented.

Article on False Reports

In the article entitled, False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault, Dr. Kim Lonsway, Sgt. Joanne Archambault (Ret.), and Dr. David Lisak explore the prevalence on false reports of sexual assault, and then discuss the underlying societal beliefs and attitudes associated with false reporting. 

OnLine Training Institute Module

This training module is designed to directly confront the issue of false reporting by showing that the “red flags” that typically raise suspicion are often the realistic dynamics of sexual assault. Research on false reports is reviewed, and the implications are explored for effective criminal justice and community responses.

Oregon Attorney General’s Office Position Paper

In this article, False Allegations, Case Unfounding, and Victim Recantations in the Context of Sexual Assault, the Sexual Assault Task Force of the Oregon Attorney General’s Office seeks to clarify and distinguish terms that are often misused, such as: victim recantation, false allegations, and unfounding to ensure that victims receive a consistent, professional and knowledgeable response.

Prosecution for Filing a False Report

This report, by the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK, analyzes the cases where someone was prosecuted for filing a false report of sexual assault, domestic violence, or both. The report outlines the key findings of that review, as well as guidance for criminal justice professionals to apply when a charging decision is being made in such a case.

Gender Bias in Sexual Assault Response and Investigation

EVAWI offers a Training Bulletin series designed to explore the phenomenon of gender bias, both explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious), and the resulting stereotypes and attitudes that can influence the professional response to, and investigation of, sexual assault. We explore strategies that can be used to identify the presence of implicit gender bias and mitigate its influence, and address key questions about how implicit gender bias can disadvantage (or advantage) either the victim and/or suspect.

Unfounded Case Coding

The Kansas Sexual Assault Kit (SAKI) Initiative developed helpful guidance that accompanies their Model Policy on Investigating Sexual Assault, to provide additional clarification on “unfounded” case coding. This document explicitly defines when cases should be coded as unfounded, and when they should not.

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