Coerced confessions and that kind of brutality is a police interrogation issue though. It has nothing to do with whether or not legitimate victims have a right to make complaints. Unless they were falsely accused by the alleged victim, which does happen, but it is pretty rare, that’s another systemic issue. This line of thinking is a red herring entirely! It’s the erroneous cultural narrative that false accusers are routinely ruining the lives of innocent men, which simply is not born out by fact.

“The science of verbal interrogation has been evolving in recent years and is currently moving away from “the Reid method” which is employed by many American police departments, to “the PEACE method” which is now commonly used in the UK. The main criticism of the Reid method is that it is intended to elicit a confession and therefore has a higher probability of eliciting false confessions, whereas the PEACE method is intended to get to the truth. For more about what those each entail, read here.”

But there is a certain demographic of people who make false accusations -“adult false accusers who persist in pursuing charges have a previous history of bizarre fabrications or criminal fraud. Indeed, they’re often criminals whose family and friends are also criminals; broken people trapped in chaotic lives.

Teenaged girls may indicate they’ve been assaulted to get out of trouble with parents for missing curfew or being discovered to be sexually active, but in these instances, it’s overwhelmingly the parents who are insisting on pursuing reporting and not the girls themselves.

The presumption should be that victims reporting crimes are to be believed until such time that thorough investigation proves otherwise. What is a whole lot more common than anyone being falsely accused is real victims being disbelieved and then retraumatized by the system that is supposed to help them. Of course, false accusation of any kind is wrong and terrible, but it’s comparatively rare, and this case that you’ve cited is a horrible thing, but also not a common one, no doubt exacerbated by the fact that they were not White.

According to RAINN, out of every 1000 instances of rape, only 13 cases get referred to a prosecutor, and only 7 cases will lead to a felony conviction. Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, only 310 are reported to the police.

“Furthermore, in the most detailed study ever conducted of sexual assault reports to police, undertaken for the British Home Office in the early 2000s, out of 216 complaints that were classified as false, only 126 had even gotten to the stage where the accuser lodged a formal complaint. Only 39 complainants named a suspect. Only six cases led to an arrest, and only two led to charges being brought before they were ultimately deemed false. (Here, as elsewhere, it has to be assumed that some unknown percentage of the cases classified as false actually involved real rapes; what they don’t involve is countless innocent men’s lives being ruined.)”

The presumption of innocence, an ancient tenet of Criminal Law, is actually a misnomer.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the presumption of the innocence of a criminal defendant is best described as an assumption of innocence that is indulged in the absence of contrary evidence (Taylor v. Kentucky, 436 U.S. 478, 98 S. Ct. 1930, 56 L. Ed. 2d 468 [1978]). It is not considered evidence of the defendant’s innocence, (empahsis mine) and it does not require that a mandatory inference favorable to the defendant be drawn from any facts in evidence.

In other words, this presumption is not literal, but is simply indicative of who has the burden of persuasion and proof in a trial setting. If we were routinely sending people to trial whom we presumed to be there for no good reason because we believed them to be innocent, our court system would be more clogged than it already is.

Instead, we arrest and indict those for whom we have probable cause to believe deserve to be arrested and indicted. We come to that conclusion after a thorough investigation and analysis of evidence. It is via this level of due process that we can be reasonably assured that those who are standing trial deserve to be there although they do not bear the burden of proving their own innocence. Rather, the burden of proof of guilt lies with the prosecution.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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