False Reporting of Sexual Assault Cases: Moving Beyond The Issues

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90 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 6, 2021

Wendy Patrick
Wendy Patrick, JD, PhD
Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
Carlton Hershman
Detective (Ret.), San Diego Police Department

We hear about it rarely. But when we do, it makes nationwide headlines—false reports of sexual assault. Contrary to the views of some skeptics who are inclined to disbelieve sexual assault victims, particularly those who did not come forward right away, false reports are few and far between. But they exist, and as such, can ruin the lives of those who are falsely accused.

This program will use case examples to illustrate the hallmarks of false reports, and what features distinguish them from truthful reports—many of which at first glance, arouse suspicion. It will discuss how factors such as delayed reporting, memory gaps, and inability to provide details are not necessarily consistent with false reports—and may in fact indicate truthfulness. This program will feature real case examples where reports have been proven false, and the red flags that in retrospect, were visible throughout the investigation.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Identify “red flags” that raise suspicion of a sexual assault report.
  • Recognize that many “red flags” are based on cultural stereotypes of “real rape” and reverse the cycle of suspicion that creates a “false report.”
  • Distinguish between a false report and an inaccurate report.
  • Explore how many sexual assault reports are actually false.

With a paid registration or subscription, you are free to personally listen to this webinar, as many times as you wish. You may also excerpt or cite the material following accepted conventions. However, you may not allow other individuals to listen to this webinar without their own registration or subscription.

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