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RAPE AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS OF RAPE

NCJ Number
67981
Journal
Police Surgeon Issue: 15 Dated: (APRIL 1979) Pages: 29-40
Author(s)
N M MACLEAN
Date Published
1979
Length
12 pages
Annotation
MEDICAL PROCEDURES AIMED AT DISCRIMINATING BETWEEN GENUINE RAPE VICTIMS AND OTHERS MAKING FALSE RAPE ACCUSATIONS ARE DESCRIBED FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A FORENSIC SURGEON IN SCOTLAND.
Abstract
THIS STUDY DEALS ONLY WITH RAPE VICTIMS, NOT WITH ALLEGED RAPISTS. IN ORDER TO PROTECT INNOCENT MEN AGAINST GROUNDLESS ALLEGATIONS, MEDICAL EXAMINATION PROCEDURES HAD TO BE DEVISED TO DETERMINE THE FACTORS DISTINGUISHING FALSE RAPE ACCUSATIONS FROM REAL RAPE VICTIMIZATION. COVERING AN AREA ADJACENT TO GLASGOW, WITH APPROXIMATELY 100,000 INHABITANTS, THE MEDICAL INVESTIGATOR UNDERTOOK A STUDY OF ALL CASES OF ALLEGED RAPE IN THE COMMUTER COMMUNITIES UNDER HIS JURISDICTION. OVERCOMING THE CONCEPTUAL PROBLEM OF AN EXACT RAPE DEFINITION, ACCURATE DATA WERE GATHERED ON CHARGES REFLECTING APPARENTLY GENUINE CASES OF RAPE, PROBABLY GENUINE CASES, PROBABLY FALSE ACCUSATIONS, AND DEFINITELY FALSE ACCUSATIONS. OF THE 34 CASES OF ALLEGED RAPE INVESTIGATED, 15 WERE THOUGHT TO BE GENUINE, 3 PROBABLY GENUINE, 6 PROBABLY FALSE, AND 10 DEFINITELY FALSE. THE VICTIMS' AGES RANGED FROM 13 TO 60; 21 WERE SINGLE AND 13 MARRIED. ALL WOMEN MAKING FALSE ACCUSATIONS WERE FOUND TO HAVE SOCIAL, MEDICAL, OR ECONOMIC PROBLEMS, OR WERE ATTEMPTING TO COVER UP SOME PROBLEM (E.G., TEENAGERS STAYING OUT LATE; PROSTITUTES WHO HAD NOT BEEN PAID BY THEIR CLIENTS; MARRIED WOMEN DISCOVERED IN ADULTERY BY THEIR HUSBANDS. THE TECHNIQUES ENABLING THE FORENSIC PHYSICIAN TO TEST THE TRUTH OR FALSITY OF THE RAPE CHARGES MADE BY ALLEGED VICTIMS, INCLUDED THE MEDICAL EXAMINATION OF THE WOMEN'S GENITAL AREAS AND THE REST OF THEIR BODIES FOR INJURIES AND OTHER EVIDENCE, AS WELL AS THE EXAMINATION OF CLOTHING (NAKED/EYE) AND THE VICTIMS' APPEARANCE. THE FINDINGS OF THIS STUDY WERE SUPPLEMENTED BY QUESTIONNAIRES SENT TO 128 OTHER FORENSIC PHYSICIANS. IN GENERAL, THE FALSE RAPE VICTIMS (WHO HAD USUALLY REPORTED THE ALLEGED RAPE WITH CONSIDERABLE DELAY, HAD NO GENITAL INJURIES (IN CONTRAST TO THE GENUINE VICTIMS) AND ONLY SUPERFICIAL BODILY INJURIES OF DOUBTFUL ORIGIN. THE FALSE VICTIMS WERE ALSO GENERALLY CALM IN DEMEANOR AND (AGAIN, IN CONTRAST TO THE GENUINE VICTIMS) EITHER NOT DISHEVELLED OR ONLY SLIGHTLY DISHEVELLED IN APPEARANCE. THIS ARTICLE RECOMMENDS THAT A LARGER STUDY OF THE PROBLEM OF FALSE ACCUSATIONS BE UNDERTAKEN, AND A RAPE INDEX BE WORKED OUT, TO PUT SPECULATION ON A MORE SCIENTIFIC BASIS. GRAPHIC AND TABULAR DATA AND A BIBLIOGRAPHY ARE PROVIDED.