Historically, experts have assumed around 8 percent of rape or sexual assault allegations are false.
But a new compilation of statistics based on actual cases in the U.S. military found as many as 26 percent of allegations are false.
The issue has been in the headlines in recent weeks because of Christine Ford’s claim that now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her when both were in their high school 36 years ago.
In a 50-48 vote to confirm Kavanaugh, only one Democrat supported him.
“We are very fortunate that the waves of bizarre accusations against Brett Kavanaugh did not kill his nomination to the Supreme Court,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness. “But the verbal assault could have worked to achieve that result.”
Her organization has looked at actual numbers of reported military sexual assault cases over recent years.
The military, which was ordered by Barack Obama to address the problem of sexual assault, notes in its 2017 report two categories of claims, those “Insufficient Evidence of Any Offense to Prosecute” and “Allegations unfounded by Command/Legal Review.”
The report explains the categories do not include instances in which the victim declined to participate in a prosecution or the statute of limitations had expired.
The total in those two categories, among all military reports of sexual assault, was 13 percent in 2009, peaking at 26 percent in 2016. In 2017, the claims were down slightly to 23 percent.
“When the allegations in an unrestricted report are investigated, one possible outcome is that the evidence discovered by the investigators demonstrates that the accused person did not commit the offense,” the report says.
“Another possible outcome is that evidence shows that a crime did not occur. When either of these situations occurs, the allegations” are “determined to be unfounded.”
“This information is important because it is not anecdotal; it is extracted from official DoD reports focusing on the behavior of young men and women who live under rules meant to encourage personal discipline,” Donnelly told WND.
A Washington Times report by Rowan Scarborough on the topic explained other studies have found up to 40 percent of sexual assault charges are false.
“There is no shortage of politicians, victims’ advocates and news articles claiming that the nationwide false report for rape and sexual assault is almost nonexistent, presenting a figure of around 2 percent,” Brent Turvey, a criminologist, told the Times.
“This figure is not only inaccurate, but also it has no basis in reality. Reporting it publicly as a valid frequency rate with any empirical basis is either scientifically negligent or fraudulent.”
Donnelly told the Times, “It appears that die-hard opponents of Kavanaugh have invented a narrative to imply that false accusations hardly ever happen.
“You see where they are going with this,” she continued. “Any man who doubts Ford is hostile to women experiencing abuse, who make accusations truthfully 90 to 98 percent of the time. This is why hard data from the Pentagon, which shows rates of false accusations averaging 18 percent in annual reports since 2009, is important.”
There were three women who accused Kavanaugh. Claims by Ford and Deborah Ramirez were investigated, but purported witnesses didn’t back their stories.
“A third charge, Julie Swetnick’s accusation of gang rape, was deemed not credible by Republicans and wasn’t on the FBI interview list,” the Times said.
The new military emphasis on tracking sex crimes comes from an order from Obama.
“The statistics on unfounded cases are contained in an appendix of 3,567 cases last year. Of those, 729 cases were dropped because of ‘insufficient evidence’ that a crime was committed,” the Times reported.
“Another 79 were deemed ‘unfounded’ at the command/legal review level. The total — 808 — represents 23 percent of all cases that year.”