U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

False Rape Allegations

NCJ Number
Polygraph Volume: 30 Issue: 3 Dated: 2001 Pages: 163-171
Eugene J. Kanin
Date Published
9 pages
This article addresses the issue of false rape allegations, which is the intentional reporting of a forcible rape by an alleged victim when no rape has occurred, and reported the findings of a study on the subject.
Of the many controversies surrounding the crime of rape, no more difficult issue arises than dealing with false allegations. False rape charges have probably been in existence as long as the concept of rape. However, in the 20th century, medical jurisprudence witnessed a new development that enabled false allegations to be viewed as a singular instance of gender-related lying, something quite different in nature from the false allegations of robbery or burglary that were made by men. False rape allegations became a reflection of a unique condition of women, not unlike that of kleptomania. The purpose of this paper is to report the findings on the incidence of false rape allegations from a long-term study of one city’s police agency. This investigation is a case study of one police agency in a small metropolitan area in the Midwestern United States. This city was picked because it offered an almost model laboratory for studying false rape allegations. False rape allegations were investigated from 1978 to 1987. A ranking police official notified the investigators whenever a rape charge was declared false and provided records of the case. In the study, 41 percent of the total disposed rape cases were officially declared false. The incidence figure was variable from year to year. The data showed that all the complainants were white, largely of lower socioeconomic background, and a majority was modestly educated. The study of the 45 cases of false rape allegations led to the conclusion that these false charges were able to serve three major functions for the complainants: providing an alibi, a means of gaining revenge, and a platform for seeking attention/sympathy. This tripartite model resulted from the complainants’ own words during recantation and does not constitute conjecture. False rape allegations are not the consequence of a gender-related aberration, as frequently claimed, but reflect impulsive and desperate efforts by women to cope with personal and social stress. References