Insufficient Evidence v False Allegations

*Trigger Warning: this post discusses rape

I saw yet another newspaper article today on a rape case in which the case did not proceed to the suspect being charged with any offence.
Immediately on being informed of this decision, the offender’s family and friends took to the media stating that the allegations were completely false and the victim had maliciously lied to police, fabricating this bizarre story.

Articles like this one have recently become a daily occurrence in the media, if not in the national papers then most certainly appearing in local community ones.

Despite every police force in England and Wales actively encouraging victims of rape or serious sexual assault to report these incidents, recent figures suggest that approximately only 20% of all rape cases are ever reported to police.

Of these reported cases only around 23% of rape suspects are charged and appear in court.

If we are to believe the media, as well as friends, family and those supporting the rape suspect, that insufficient evidence being found to enable a suspect to be charged with rape indicates that the victim was lying and falsely accused the suspect, then based on the above figures that would imply that 77% of all reported rapes are false allegations.

Just think about that for a minute ……. 77% of all reported rapes are lies.
That is what the media and supporters of offenders would like us to believe. Wow, just wow!

Of the 23% of cases which do proceed to court, less than 10% result in a guilty verdict. Again, the suspects who have been found not-guilty in court (over 90%) take to the media to declare their innocence and state publicly that the verdict proves the victim was lying and made false allegations.

What baffles me and leaves me completely speechless is why anyone would choose to make a report of being raped or sexually assaulted to police, and as a result, be interviewed about the assault if they were lying.

For the sake of impartiality, I acknowledge that some false reports of rape are made to police, however the true figures of false accusations reported are less than 5% of all reported cases. A far cry from the 77% which the media suggest.

Why anyone would subject themselves to a police rape or sexual assault interview if the incident had not occurred is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps members of the public think it is all too easy to make a false allegation. If you mistakenly believe this, then please give some consideration of what it is like being interviewed by police for a reported rape or sexual assault – it is far from pleasant, in fact it’s nothing less than traumatic.

I have undergone numerous video interviews for multiple rapes and sexual assaults, and it is not something I would wish to be subjected to again. Being asked:
“Were you penetrated; where were you penetrated (ie. vagina, anus, mouth); what were you penetrated with (eg penis, fingers, other object); how long were you penetrated for; what did the suspect do whilst penetrating you; did the suspect ejaculate; where did he ejaculate …….

If you think it is so easy to answer these questions then the next time you have enjoyable, consensual sex with your loved one, think about how you would feel if, when you next returned to work, you had to go to your boss and graphically describe every minute of your recent sexual encounter with them in explicit detail. Would you find that difficult to do? Now consider a rape victim having to describe all of that to a stranger dressed in a police uniform.

When a victim decides to report the rape or sexual assault to police, the victim is informed that there is absolutely no guarantee that the case will ever proceed to court. The CPS make the decision on whether a suspect is charged based on the amount of evidence available. If there is insufficient evidence then the case is closed and no further action is taken against the suspect.

Providing sufficient evidence is the hardest part. It is important to note that even forensic evidence providing semen is not in and of itself sufficient evidence to prove rape. All that semen provides is a DNA link to the suspect, but what it cannot prove is whether the sexual activity that took place was consensual or not which is key to proving rape.

Of course forensic evidence can only be obtained if the victim attends a medical forensic examination within a certain time frame of the rape occurring. As with the police interviews, I have no idea why anyone would subject themselves to a medical forensic exam if they were lying.

I have undergone 2 forensic medical examinations. I have the utmost respect for the medical professionals working within the unit and can’t praise the compassion, dedication and care with which they carry out their duties. However, undergoing a forensic medical exam is just as traumatic and unpleasant as the police interview. The physical exam took just over 4 hours. Each cut, wound and bruise meticulously measured, photographed and then documented. The vaginal exam was recorded on DVD in order to better record evidence for court. Numerous swabs have to be taken, each one recorded on the DVD & finally the internal examination to record injuries.

Why, just why would you subject yourself to that if you were lying?

Unless there is additional and undeniable evidence to prove the rape or sexual offence took place, it is increasingly hard to provide sufficient evidence. There have been a few recent cases in which offenders were found guilty because they (or a third party) had filmed the rape taking place and posted the footage online either via Snapchat, Facebook Live or Periscope. Without this sort of evidence or witnesses to the assault taking place, 77% of cases are closed due to lack of supporting evidence.

Before you jump to the conclusion though that those 77% of victims have lied and made false allegations, please consider the trauma they have been through as described above to make those allegations and ask yourself, does insufficient evidence equate to a false allegation – which every offender and their supporters would have you believe?