Woman Pays for Reporting a Rape

In 2008, an 18-year-old woman in Washington State reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted. But they didn’t believe her. Lynnwood Police Chief Steve Jensen said that her story changed, her details were inconsistent and that people who knew the victim expressed doubts about her story.

So the police charged her with false reporting, and she pleaded guilty under a deal that included a fine of $500. The charge remains on her record.

Three years later, Marc O’Leary was arrested in Colorado for charges of sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary and felony menacing. He is being held on $5 million bail. When the police raided O’Leary’s home earlier this month, they found photos of his victims.

The 18-year-old woman from Washington was in those photographs.

O’Leary was violent. He would break into women’s homes when he knew they were alone. Wearing gloves and a mask, he would surprise them in their bedrooms and threaten them into cooperation, once using a gun. He would bind their hands and then sexually assault them, while using the self-timer on a camera to take pictures. Afterwards, he would force the women to shower and brush their teeth. He would take their bedding and their clothes, then hide their phones so they couldn’t call the police immediately.

Over the past year, O’Leary did this to at least two women in the Denver area. He is suspected of having attacked another woman, who managed to escape by jumping out her bedroom window, and another woman in Seattle sometime in 2009.

Police are saying that the Washington woman’s case has “strong similarities” to the cases O’Leary is being charged with in Colorado. They have reopened her case, reimbursed her $500 and are working on getting her record expunged.

And that’s all.

There is little data about what percentage of rape reports are intentionally false–studies that do exist have small sample sizes and non-representative samples. But it shouldn’t matter. When a woman goes to the police with a rape allegation, her complaint should be taken seriously and investigated fully. Charging women with false reporting does not discourage false rape allegations–it discourages ALL rape allegations. The courage it takes to report a rape is unimaginable—that’s why most rapes go unreported. This teenager had the guts to go to the police and tell her story, and they didn’t just dismiss her but accuse her. What kind of signal does that send to victims of rape?

The Lynnwood Police department reported just six rapes in 2008 [PDF]. In other words, they weren’t overloaded with sexual assault cases to work on. The police chief now admits:

We were wrong. Everybody feels terrible about it…we take sexual assaults very seriously. Our investigators always get charged up to get the bad guys in these cases.

Getting “charged up” is not enough. If they had taken the young woman seriously instead of questioning her credibility, maybe other women would not have had to go through the same thing. Ninety to 95 percent of rapes are committed by serial rapists—such as O’Leary.

This woman deserves more than just a reimbursement and a clean criminal record. She was put through hell by first O’Leary and then the criminal justice system. How about giving her a splashy public apology and a large settlement, then prosecuting O’Leary for his crime against her AND initiating updated rape-investigation procedures in the police department?

The newest Ms. cover story discusses the underreporting of rapes by police departments, explaining how police “unfound” rapes that don’t meet the too-limited FBI definition of what a rape is. The story calls for “No More Excuses,” asking police departments to be held accountable for the rapes that occur in their jurisdictions. Police Chief Jensen’s explanation that “her story changed” is an excuse, and it is unacceptable.

Photo of Marc O’Leary from Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.


  1. That is horrible and tragic. At the same time, false rape reports can also have terrible and tragic effects. It's not right to let people who knowingly accused innocent people of a crime, possibly ruining their reputation in the process, go without some sort of penalty. So yes, I believe we need to prosecute false accusers, in the end they are making it worse for anyone who wants to come forward than the police, who want to establish the truth.

    In this case, however, the victim didn't know her accuser, and clearly wasn't in a position to harm anyone with her accusations. Even if she made the whole thing up, it would have been a victimless crime, which makes it strange that they charged her with stuff.

    • Except that she would have been wasting police time by false reporting.

    • You guys are really heavily invested in making rape complainants out to be liars. I wonder if you realize how transparent you are.

      • Right?? Rape is not reported falsely anymore often than any other crime is falsely reported, yet I never hear anyone saying that you shouldn’t bother reporting that robbery because no one will believe you, what with all those liars out there lying about being robbed. Irony is, I’m sure insurance fraud, for example, happens for more often than a false rape report, but again, we aren’t putting anyone’s credibility on trial unless they’ve already been violently assaulted. /eyeroll

    • But how does this even work Egor? Its incredibly difficult to prosecute sexual assaults because its often literally her word against his, which isn’t a high enough standard of evidence for most courts. Most prosecutions therefore fail, despite the fact that in most of those cases the guy actually did rape her.

      So how do we do this fine-the-victim thing? If we are consistent we’d have to charge every victim of an attacker where the prosecutor failed to secure a conviction knowing that most of those victims had really been raped?

      Do we want a world where women who are raped have to then live in fear of cops who will most likely prosecute them for speaking up?

      It couldn’t even remotely be called “justice”. Rape survivors need our care and protection, not our suspicion and punishment.

    • False allegations of rape are usually reported to be between 1-2% of falsely reported crimes, in very rarely cited stats 3%. Even disregarding feminist thought, so-called “political correctness”, and ANY notions of sexual equality, this means that when a woman reports being raped the immediate, uncontested assumption should be that SHE IS TELLING THE TRUTH. False rape allegations should be considered out of the question and the very rarest of occurences because they happen so infrequently. It should not be immediately, unquestioningly assumed that all women who report rapes and sexual assaults are lying.

      Playing devil’s advocate doesn’t fly, referring to a woman’s reporting of a rape as “accusations” is blatantly dishonest, commenting on THIS story on the way the criminal justice system should prosecute false allegations is a waste of everyone’s time and energy, and you’re a misogynist piece of shit.

  2. This situation is sad without a doubt but to be fair her story did change and the details were inconsistent. Her record should of course be cleared and the rapist should obviously be charged. However the underlying message here seems to be that all claims of rape are true. They are not always true. Cries of rape are often used as a weapon of angry and vindictive women. Claims should always be investigated of course but lets not just assume that all men are guilty as soon as they are accused. She was fined $500 for a rape accusation that was (incorrectly) dismissed. What happened to her was terrible without a doubt but you can't just throw a man in jail forever based on an accusation and testimony with no evidence either.

    The consequence is a life completely destroyed.

    The issue is more complicated than this post lets on.

    • To be honest, you have no idea if her story actually changed or that her details were inconsistent. The officer simply said that they were. I had a police officer pull over a friend and claim he smelled marijuana in his car (a very adamant non-smoker, as well) and proceeded to search his car for no reason other than to cause the kid trouble (and found nothing). But simply because he SAID he smelled it, he was allowed to search the car. Not to point disrespect at police, but there are good officers and then there are a few bad ones who enjoy the power of it.

    • Sometimes changes in the story and inconsistent details are due to the trauma of the assault, not because the victim is necessarily lying.

    • Natalie Rose says:

      If accusing someone of rape completely wrecks their life, imagine what BEING raped is like.

    • No, it’s not more complicated. An investigation or trial is not the same thing as locking someone up and throwing away the key. She didn’t know her attacker and this rapist routinely cleared the evidence that would have led police to suspect him, so it wasn’t some ‘he said, she said’ scenario. The point the author makes about serial rapists illustrates that opening a case and investigating it, whether or not it leads to a conviction is important. The point the author makes about not criminalizing rape victims, so that people are not discouraged from reporting it, speaks to that same issue. The more open cases, the more victims, the more likely the police are to catch a *serial* rapist.

      You have also made some assumption that her story did indeed change. And by the way, a “changing story” and “inconsistent details” are neither the same thing or two distinct considerations to be offered in response to witness credibility.

      They are two different interpretations of how the police viewed her report. Both can not be true; and, neither one needs to be. *And* even her credibility was hinky, all different kinds of people get attacked, not just the ones with clarity of thought and solid friends.

      Finally, how you went from this post to a link of an unjustly incarcerated man is a mystery to me.

      Much like this poor person, innocent people are imprisoned largely because of poor or unethical police work, biased (racist/classist/sexist) opinions and bad sentencing laws. The entire point of having civil rights during due process is to give weight to the idea that it is better to let a guilty person go unpunished than it is jail an innocent man. But as I said, listening to a rape victim and not sending her packing with a hefty fine and criminal record, is not the converse side locking up an innocent man. The same principle should be applied to the victims of crime. It is better to take a report, and do the work to find the truth of it, than it is to discredit the witness, punish the witness and blow it off. We are talking about repeat offenders who have patterned crimes, patterned victims, and often patterned geographical distributions. Time bears these crimes out. Time and rigorous investigation.

      And if you want to draw a connection between wrongfully accused people and rape cases, try this one on for size: why is witness testimony scrutinized to death when women self-report a sex-crime or sexual harassment, but recanting witnesses can still be the single line of evidence against to a death row inmate like Troy Davis? That’s what I meant above by bad sentencing laws. But seriously, why is there this imagined secondary gain from reporting sex-crimes? Law enforcement treats people like they are getting something good out of it that they’d be loath to see them glean, when in fact it’s a nightmare.


      • As a fella, I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit offend if these discussions where limited to women only, to keep the MRA creeps away.

        Honestly the MRA folks make me embarassed to be a man sometimes. I don’t need my male rights protected, I want people to stop abusing my sisters.

    • Thank you for having the courage to say this. I feel the same way about many stories of this type that I read. Although there is no doubt that this woman was wrongly accused, victimized, and is almost definitely not the only one to experience this, I agree with where you are coming from. Of course trauma alters your memory, but this is still one of the first things police are told to look for in any allegation. The police were also probably aware of the study that shows that roughly 45% of rapes reported in the U.S. are false allegations. In a world where only roughly 25% of actual rapes are reported, many police might stray from investigating first, I don’t blame the police. I blame women who falsely report. In my opinion, the police aren’t sexist and they don’t believe that all women are liars. They just get almost the same amount of fake rape allegations as real ones. This is not entirely the fault of the police. The ones who are really to blame are the large number of women who report falsely (which get taken seriously more often than real rape cases are dismissed). This article should be a cautionary tale to women who think they can get back at their boyfriends by crying rape. They should be told that it’s THEIR statistics that cause doubt in police, and they’re the ones to blame for the poor treatment of ACTUAL rape victims.

      • “They just get almost the same amount of fake rape allegations as real ones”. “The ones who are really to blame are the large number of women who report falsely”

        How are you backing up these statements?

      • A large number of women falsely report rape?
        I don’t think so.
        The police aren’t sexist and don’t disbelieve women? Dead wrong. Many cops are very sexist. And they may believe what a woman is saying, but side with the man and not consider it to be a “real crime”.
        I wasn’t raped, but my partner became abusive and beat me up pretty badly – and when I called the cops, and they showed up, they tried to talk me out of filing a complaint. I HAD TO THREATEN TO SUE THEM before they would write it up.
        I have had more contact with cops than a lot of people, because my dad was a cop, so I am not intimidated by them. I had no problem standing up to those misogynistic idiots who were at first refusing to listen to me.
        But what if I was raped, and hurt and ashamed and timid and afraid or in a condition where I couldn’t face off and MAKE them listen? How many rape victims do you think experience this, and their complaints are never filed, or never investigated?
        If you think a large number of rape accusations are false, you are a fool.
        More like, a very large number of legitimate rape accusations are treated as false by the police, and never written up and investigated.

  3. "Charging women with false reporting does not discourage false rape allegations–it discourages ALL rape allegations. "

    Yes but never charging women making false allegations ENCOURAGES women to make life-destroying allegations against men. While it's very unfortunate what has happened to this woman, spare a moment for men who have had false allegations made against them – should women (or men) be allowed to do this with impunity?

    • This is an ignorant post and does not represent the reality of most victims of sexual assault. Impunity? I'd say so.

      • RoyStone says:

        Sarah if you have statistical data to back up your claim about "the reality of most victims of sexual assault" then please share it with us.

        In Australia the conviction rate of rape cases is less than 10%. That means that 90% are either false accusations or there is insufficient evidence for a conviction.

        Dave is right – women should be convicted for knowingly and maliciously making false rape allegations. A successful prosecution would require proof beyond reasonable doubt that the accusation was knowingly and maliciously false. Changing her story would not be sufficient proof. Regardless a $500 fine is nothing compared to 15 years jail of innocent man.

        • "In Australia the conviction rate of rape cases is less than 10%. That means that 90% are either false accusations or there is insufficient evidence for a conviction. "

          Or the jury buys into misogynist beliefs about how rape victims "ask for it" and how they "should have" behaved. Or the woman is pressured into recanting.

          Mods, could you PLEASE ban all these rape apologists and denialists?

        • Hey Roy, lets talk about that statistic. Man to man like. I spent years working in an australian court and yeah most convictions fail.

          But after a while you get to “feel” whos telling the truth and who’s lying. You can see it in peoples eyes, that shits hard to fake.

          And let me tell you, the vast majority of women in those courtrooms are there because they where raped. False accusations happen, but its pretty rare. Rape, very not rare, and thats scary as hell.

          The thing is, courts have a thing where an allegation needs to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. If theres any room for “maybe we’re missing something and theres a chance this guy is innocent” then no conviction is possible.

          That means his word vs her word is not enough. The accused’s word carries more weight because by law he doesnt need to prove his innocence, rather the burden lies on the prosecutor to prove his guilt.

          So to get a conviction you’ll typically need witnesses (Ie the guy brags about it to someone, or someone walked in, or heard screaming), forensics (but theres a catch! If his defence was “it was consentual”, then DNA doesnt prove a thing) or some sort of other evidence.

          But often the nature of rape trauma means women often clam up silent about it for months meaning witnesses (and her) memories can become distorted and less legally reliable, forensic evidence can be long gone, and often your left with his word vs hers. Coupled with the long delays in trials actually getting to courts due to the huge backlogs in district courts, and its a recipe for the trial being unable to present enough evidence for a judge to let it move to trial.

          And finally Defence lawyers are masters at high pressure witness interogating, often badgering the victims into presenting inconsistent evidence due to the traumatic nature of the interogation (some rape victims describe the trial process as nearly traumatic as the original crime) and all this can leave a very unfavorable impression of the victim on the jury.

          Most prosecutions fail, and my long in the tooth experience of those trials is that most people found not guilty, are in fact guilty as hell.

          So no dude, the 10% conviction rape is not reason to say we should be prosecuting the women, its reason to say that prosecuting the women would create a whole new experience of trauma for already traumatized people.

        • I seem one of the 90% whose case was dropped. When it happened I reported our to my school counselor as well as a psychologist who did the rounds of rural schools. Both women told me to calm down, stop being a victim and making a mountain out of a molehill.
          They kept detailed written records of everything else I said to them, but there is magically no record of these conversations.
          They discouraged me from going to the police and “making a fuss”, so I didn’t, for ten years.
          I was a 15 year old virgin when it happened.
          He would have been at least 18 and had been grooming me and hunting me for months.

          Because these two women who were supposed to protect me decided to either lie about the records or just didn’t write it up in the first place and put me in the too-hard-basket, my case didn’t have enough evidence to go forward.
          When I got the call I tried to kill myself because I honestly lost all hope.

          That was only four days ago. I honestly don’t know what to do now.
          I have been assaulted SO many times since then, but didn’t “make a fuss” or report it because as a child of 15 I had been told not to.
          Sexual assault and rape happen. I know two other women who were raped. One reported and wasn’t believed. The other never did because “they’d never believe me anyway”.

          Obviously the 15 year old who just wanted to play computer games, read books and do well in school was an attention seeking little girl who wanted nothing more than to ruin the life of a guy she thought of as a big brother.

    • Escuse me? Yes, women and people should be allowed to make any allegation that they want. That is why they are *allegations*. If they prove false, they can face consequences, but being an unreliable witness, and refusing to investigate a crime is not the same thing as proving false.

      I will ask this again? Why do you, Dave, think that some great honor is bestowed upon women accusing a man of rape? It’s a horrifying experience. And it goes on and on for years, because as the author points out, rapists are by in large repeat offenders. These guys follow the same patterns, making your testimony admissible every time the guy gets out and starts raping again.

      You can’t prove a negative, but I guarantee that more unreported rapes and rapes institutionally discouraged from being reported happen than “over-reported” attacks.

      And one more time I will point out that this is not some ‘he said, she said’ case. It’s a violent crime by an unknown assailant committing repeat patterned crimes against more people than this person.

      And while we are on the topic of accusations: I accuse you of offering no proof of said “encouragement”. Are we, women, just attention seeking? Is that it? Or is there some secret secondary gain that comes out of it but that we can only recognize once women are “allowed to do this with impunity”? If I see once woman successfully ruin an innocent man’s life, will it make me want to bask in all that beauteous glory of mug shots and calls from the DA’s office and my big day in court ten years later where I get to see the guy again? Yes, of course I would, I mean, who could resist that? Another successfully prosecuted wrongfully accused man – a great victory for women everywhere! And I would do it all at the expense of some poor innocent man who was simply misunderstood and did not really break into some anyone’s home and violent attack them, and then steal the bedding and my cel phone to keep the police from catching him. Is that how you imagine it? …Or, if you have some personal anecdote – fill in the imagined crime for which these wanton women have been “encouraged” to report by the successful destruction of yet another man’s life.

      But here’s my question? How will I know? I mean how will I be able to tell the cases of false allegations from the true ones? Or will they all encourage me?

      • Perfectly spoken.

        Further, the number of successful false allegations for rape are almost unquestionably rare (and the only reason I say “almost” is because there is no tangible means for measuring the percentage/rate of false allegations), and false convictions extremely rare. Also, I think it’s important to note the way in which the FBI attempts to “calculate” questionable allegations, revealing the inherently degrading and disabling nature of the FBI’s stance:

        “…a report of rape might be classified as unfounded (rather than as forcible rape) if the alleged victim did not try to fight off the suspect, if the alleged perpetrator did not use physical force or a weapon of some sort, if the alleged victim did not sustain any physical injuries, or if the alleged victim and the accused had a prior sexual relationship. Similarly, a report might be deemed unfounded if there is no physical evidence or too many inconsistencies between the accuser’s statement and what evidence does exist. As such, although some unfounded cases of rape may be false or fabricated, not all unfounded cases are false.”

        Women are not even taken seriously in investigations and in court. We have little say over what WE, THE ACTUAL VICTIMS legitimately experienced. It is absolutely horrifying and demeaning to hear someone say, “Girls falsely accuse guys of rape ALL THE TIME!!! THEY GET ALL THE SAY IN THE COURT ROOM! THEY’RE LYING, CONNIVING BITCHES JUST OUT TO GET MEN!!!” When you say this, you’re immediately squashing any ounce of autonomy she has socially and physically. You are contributing to a vicious cycle of women who don’t report rape because they know they won’t be taken seriously. People, namely men but certainly many women who subscribe to this line of thought fueled by rape culture, need to wake up.

    • And I suppose YOU in the meantime will spare a thought for the far larger number of women who are actually raped, than the tiny number of demonstrably false allegations? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

      So typical really, all this screaming about false allegations by those who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about real rape victims.

  4. Cry me a river.

  5. The question is what rape is, or when can one call it rape? In the religious societies people are taught to be gentle, turn the other cheek, to forgive 70 x7; to be submissive unto men. Men are taught that to no means yes, that women want it, etc. Women are more often than not coerced into having sex with men, because they are not taught how to say no! They are not taught how to tell a man that his sexual attention is unwelcome. I also came out of such a situation where a man pushed his attention onto me, and always in a difficult place where it was not appropriate to react negatively, until he pushed me down in the middle of the night in a house full of people when I could not react because my kids, my in-laws was in the house. And I did not want them to see me violated like this. It took me over 10 years to put words to what happened and it took 10 years before I could tell people that 'I was raped" and still people did not believe me. They thought I was lying and they said that I was trying to hide the fact that I actually had an affair. In South Africa only a small percentage of rape case gets reported, and from those that land in the court only 5 % are found guilty. I was told the story about someone’s friend who was innocently in jail because of a rape charge. I was angry when I pointed out that if somebody gets charged and placed in jail for rape in SA he is guilty! I can understand why this woman backed down from her claim, because I could not report my incident. A rape victim once came to me uncertain whether to report her rape or not, and I told her that nobody can force her to report the rape, but I would strongly advise her to go to counselling even though she never reported rape.

    • RoyStone says:

      Excuse me, but what religion teaches women to be submissive to men, and teaches men that "no" means "yes"?
      How do you know that only a small percentage of rapes are reported? Just because you did not report your incident? What "place" is it "not appropriate to react negatively" while being raped? So you submitted when there were other people in earshot? And you wonder why people don't believe your story? Duh!
      "from those that land in the court only 5 % are found guilty" – than means that 95 % are unsubstantiated. And none of those are as a result of false allegations? Yeah, right!

      • Natalie Rose says:

        Wow, Roy, you must live in a perfect world where being guilty means you get convicted automatically and being innocent means you’re instantly acquitted. What a world to live in! You must not even need juries!

        As for how you know rapes are unreported, try talking to a room full of women sometime. Then again, they’d have to trust you enough to share your story, and most survivors of rapes aren’t big fans of rape apologists.

    • Kirsten says:

      Hey, I know it’s been a while and all, but there ARE innocent people that are convicted of crimes they didn’t do. It’s not common, but it does happen.

  6. 'Charging women with false reporting does not discourage false rape allegations–it discourages ALL rape allegations.'

    I'm sorry but you appear to have let your emotional feelings about the subject distort your view of things. Charging women with false reporting is an extremely important thing to do and any suggestion otherwise is ridiculous. A rape can no doubt destroy a womans life, but a false allegation against a man can be even worse.

    Imagine going to prison- where you may be raped yourself- then being abandoned by everyone you love (including potentially your spouse and children) and spending the rest of your life almost unemployable because you are considered a sex offender. Even an allegation without conviction is enough to seriously damage someones life.

    This article is right to point out this case as a failure of the system but that is all it is. Their is no need to infer that women should not be prosecuted if it is believed they have made a false allegation. If anything, false reports need to be punished more severely.

    • I'd accept this if your statement was that an allegation Proven to be false should be punishable. Simply not believing a woman's claim of rape is absolutely not enough to charge her.

      And whether or not charging someone for making a false rape claim is an acceptable thing to do, please do not tie that to your denying the fact that the default treatment of rape victims as attention seeking liars who really "wanted it" very much affects the number of rape victims (both male and female) with the courage to come forward.

    • Why does every man on this page equate an allegation, not a conviction, with automatic jail time? No, it is not worse to be accused of a crime than it is to be the victim of one – nor does it need to be worse to make the case against falsely imprisoning someone. Wrongfully convicting someone, is an entirely different thing than falsely accusing someone. And I will point out *once again* that she did not name her attacker.

      And exactly how does wrongfully charging and convicting a person of false reporting amend wrongfully charging and convicting someone of rape? It doesn’t. A decent police investigation should clear up a false allegation – or show if something is too weak to stand a trial, and barring that, a trial by a jury of their peers will clear the person. Now, *if* you think those things won’t work, that the system is unjust, *than* you should concentrated on what is broken, not abusing women who report rape.

  7. Other men commenting here, I am appalled at the things that have been said. Nowhere in this article is it claimed that "all claims of rape are true" nor is the writer calling for anyone to be punished on the back of a single accuser's testimony and no evidence.

    All that is being asked for is that people be taken seriously in the first place. After a traumatic event, people are often initially confused. If someone broke into your house and stole some of your things and whilst reporting it to the police you were unsure which door they entered by and forget to mention some things that were missing and remembered later, your story would be inconsistent – would you accept it as reasonable that the police fined you for making it up? If you wouldn't accept that for a burglary, a mugging or a kidnap, why accept it for a rape?

  8. This idea that women "often" accuse people of rapes that have not occured is a MYTH. There are a few cases of it happening and they get reported more widely than stories about rape. One in four women have been raped or sexually assaulted. If you know more than four women, you almost certainly know a rape survivor. How many men do you personally know who've been falsely accused or rape or sexual abuse? I know two. Myself and my ex boyfriend – both of us were accused by OTHER MEN of assaulting women they knew.

    Even if lots of people accused others falsely of sexual crimes, the police could do more to fully investigate claims than just dismiss them if a person's story *after a very traumatic event* seems a bit inconsistent. If this happened to a woman you know and love you would be outraged – this woman is someone's family too.

    • Natalie Rose says:

      Dear William, thank you for reminding me that not all men are rape apologists. There’s still hope.

  9. Rachelle says:

    wow i can't believe the comments above. Each one is blaming the victim and it highlights the bigger issue at work here: We live in a society that teaches " don't get Raped" instead of teaching " don't rape". A society where if a women reports a rape ,instead of investigating to see if her experience could be similar to other incidences, automatically assume she is lying. And 'her story changed so no wonder they thought she was lying?!' Really/ REALLY?! Assaults, muggings, persons who witness robberies, these peoples stories also change but they are given more credibility then a women reporting a rape. (before i go on i want to mentioned men too can be rape but because we live in a society that teaches men they must be dominate at all times ,these occurrences go mostly unreported. they too should be helped to find the strength to tell their stories without shame)
    i would also like to say what the above comments aren't saying but should be saying:
    To the 18 year old women that this happened , thank you for being brave and reporting your rape. i am sorry that you were forced into having to admit that story was a lie when it wasn't . i am sorry you had friends that added fuel to the fire by not supporting you and making you seem like a less credible person. I am sorry for all the low whispers you may have heard behind you after this occurred of people judging for lying when you didn't, maybe saying that you did what they think you did for attention. i can't imagine how you felt when you found out the man that raped you went on to rape others. i hope you did not fell guilty cause it was not your fault.
    $500 dollars and a "we're sorry" is not enough to take away all you must of had to endure.

    i hope other women reading this article and the victim blaming comments above don't get discouraged from reporting rapes thinking "oh i don't want to be accused of giving a false report"
    The purpose of this article is to underline the flaw with law officials and how failure to follow up on a rape report EVEN when they may suspect it might be false, could lead to others being raped and sexually assaulted.

  10. Justwantedtoshare says:

    "Ninety to 95 percent of rapes are committed by serial rapists—such as O’Leary." I question this wording of this statement. I believe the estimate is more like 75% of rapes occur by someone you know (spouse, boyfriend, acquantence etc). Now these people may be serial rapists but they are not strangers which the statement in the artical sort of implies. See http://www.rainn.org/statistics for more info.

    • Rainn are not a reliable source of information, they report the number of forcible rapes + verbal coercion rapes of women against forcible rape of men only and that is used to mislead us it thinking that women are raped more often than men when in fact rape, when we include prison rape and false allegations is a much bigger problem for men than it is women.

      Here is one of the studies that show that women rape men as often as visa versa..

      3% of men reported forced sex (of which 2.1% was forced vaginal sex… this is in fact men reporting victimization by women)
      22% of men reported verbal sexual coercion

      By comparison, in the same study it was found that:
      2.3% of women reported forced sex (don't ignore the decimal point)
      25% of women reported verbal sexual coercion
      h ttp://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/ID45-PR45.pdf

      • justwantedtoshare says:

        Either way I think you (and others) are missing the point (sorry if my words helped this). Rape happens to random strangers BUT it also happens to people who know their assailant. This article is misrepresenting that fact (among others). Dont walk around thinking your best girl (or boy as your point suggested) friend may not be a victim of rape or other forms of sexual assault just because they are in a committed relationship and never go anwyhere 'strange' or 'put themselves in dangerous situations'. You can get these statistics from anwhere and they are mostly in congruence with each other.Rape is an underreported crime for MANY reasons.

  11. "Charging women with false reporting does not discourage false rape allegations–it discourages ALL rape allegations. "

    Wrong, it discourages false reporting. There is a difference between lying and telling the truth.

    The problem here is that they didn't believe her story for, perhaps, very real reasons as evidenced by her guilty plea. If she got victimized by the prosecution then that's the ultimate issue to be addressed. Don't blame the law as it exists for important reasons.

    Justice requires protecting the innocent and that includes prosecuting false allegations. That happens far too little, not too often. Don't let the fact that this case involved a violent crime cloud the issue, the process still needs to work for everyone.

    • Sick of all of it says:

      No, Craig, it discourages ALL reporting. After I was raped by my neighbor, I, as a criminal defense lawyer, chose not to report the rape initially, as I knew it would not be prosecuted and that my neighbor would just inflict more violence on me if I made the rape known. It does not take much force to rape a woman, and I did not have any injuries that would "prove" I was forced. I know from defending rapists what it takes to have a rapist prosecuted. I tried to forget about it. After my rapist bragged about the rape and handed out my phone number to other men so they could call me for "a piece of ass," I reported the guy. He was not prosecuted, and he began a campaign of stalking and harassing me. He has made my life hell and created a story that I am a "slut" and "nut." The men in my neighborhood are greatly enjoying tearing me down, as I said no to their sexual propositions and they see me as an uppity bitch who needs to be taken down. Well, they have succeeded. So I cannot stand listening to idiots like you who have no clue what women have to deal with in terms of male violence and defamation of character. Doesn't matter how educated or kind or hard-working you are, or how good a mother you are: if you won't bow down to any old pig's demands for sex or fantasy or whatever it is wants, you will be attacked and destroyed.

      • Maybe you should consider using your law degree as a woman to help other women — especially since most other women didn’t have the opportunity to go to grad school, much less law school; like maybe presenting a case before the UN/inter-American Human Rights Tribunal to force the US government to repeal the Hyde Amendment and all of the other speciaous “conscience clause” laws that have resulted in tens of millions of women in poverty being denied access to reliable birth control — including other rape victims who are routinely denied Plan B as a standard part of the rape kit in the ER because of some hospital administrator’s misogynistic ideology cloaked deceptively in the respectable habiliments of “religious liberty.”

    • What are you talking about Craig? This WASN'T a false report! Of course there is a difference between lying and telling the truth, yet this woman was treated as a liar. Of course the treatment of this woman and many others will discourage those who have been assaulted from coming forward. "The law that exists for important reasons" is completely to blame in this situation. It is the entire system where victim mentality (changing her story) and memory recall are not understood that potentially led to this man rapping again and again.

  12. Would love more fact and less opinion in stories like this. I'd love to repost this, but not with your commentary all over it. Seeking another source.

    • You realize that this isn't a news wire site, right? If all you want is a news brief maybe you should try writing it yourself, it would only have to be like 200 words. People write for their editors and regular readers, not to encourage you to repost.

      • B-Rizzle says:

        You realize this isn't a debate forum, right? If all you want is to shoot people's comments down, you should try finding one yourself.

        • Well, I would argue that a comment thread has some similarity to a debate forum, but I see your point. I wasn't trying to start a debate, because there is nothing to debate. I wasn't trying to shoot a comment down for the hell of it, I just thought it was kind of arrogant. If I wanted a fight, there are plenty of other comments I could pick one with, that discuss the substance of this article, not whether or not it's more of a news piece or an oped, and whether or not that particular format meets some person's needs.

  13. If we had more women getting tests done, such as taking a seamen sample from the womens vagina the next day, we could make a lot of these rape cases more concrete, and avoid false allegations. It should be one of those things they teach in Jr High health class really. If you get raped, go get medical proof, even if you're not sure if you're actually going to press charges. Do it to at least have the option, and avoid getting a 500 dollar fine cause you're suspected to be submitting a false report.

    • Except deciding a rape report as false doesn't depend on whether they have a semen sample as evidence or not, since that could easily be explained away as "consensual sex" if the police isn't "charged up" in actually investigating these reports.

      Besides, in this particular case, the rapist made them shower, brush teeth and took the stained bedding/clothing.. there was no way for them to get a semen sample.

    • What if the rapist wears a condom or does not ejaculate? What if he rapes his victim orally? Sometimes there is no concrete proof. While I agree that it would certainly be very helpful in prosecuting cases (obviously), it is dangerous to REQUIRE it for prosecution because, in some cases, it’s not available.

      I also would like to point out that a large number of cities in this country have a rape kit backlog, meaning that the rape kits are performed, but then not tested for years due to lack of funds or personnel. So while I agree that it’s a good idea to have rape kits done, you can’t assume that it will be processed in a timely manner (or at all). Check out http://endthebacklog.org/whatisthebacklog.htm for more info.

      • So, I should not report a rape if my rapist wears a condom or if I’m concerned about the work-load that my city employees my have? If you want to end the back-log, fund the police and the DA and the courts. I think I understand what point you are trying to make; you are not addressing the article’s main point about cases being taken seriously, you are addressing the commentator that you somehow think is arguing in favor of *requiring* a semen sample. Even though no one actually suggested that anyone require it, they overarching point is that *thorough* investigations need to be done, and the discretion to do it, should not be up to the whim of the a single police official, but up to a standing policy. The commentator below has something to say about the victim’s psychological frame of mind and how there are phenomenon that explain why there might be a changing story, without conflating a changeling story with a lie. I think that forensic psychology is an important but underestablished part of police training as well. The job of being a cop requires a lot of diligence and effort, and hopefully a solid background check, but what it doesn’t require is a liberal (I mean that in an a-political sense) education. In training, cops receive very little education that might help to explain why a victim might be unable to deliver a clear witness statement. And then their experience educates them in a way that they think informs them – cops deal with people they consider to be liars, daily. I think sensitivity training is merited, but mostly I think better policies should be in place that take the decision to investigate to another level – an accountable one.

  14. I cannot believe that all of the posts on this article are discussing false accusations? This accusation was not false, nor are the MAJORITY of reports of sexual assault. As 3 men commenting on the rape of a female by a male (the majority of cases) you should really exercise much more good judgement–instead you are reinforcing a culture of rape that inhibits many rape victims (again mostly women) of even reporting in the first place. Shame on you.

  15. I am a Psychology professor and am in the midst of reading a 2010 book called The Invisible Gorilla by Chabris ans Simons, both Cognitive Psychologists with years of research and teaching experience. The part about her ‘changing her story’ jumped out at me in light of what is now known about the limits of perception and attention and memory. A close read of books such as these and others could have a real effect on the perception of victim statements as well as bringing a better understanding of the real and documented limits of eyewitness testimony. The vast majority of people overestimate the accuracy of their own perceptions and memory and therefore expect levels of accuracy in others’ perceptions and memories that is just not possible. A real problem occurs when in cases such as the above, there are inconsistencies, the assumption is made that the person is lying. This book is an interesting and important read and I recommend it.

  16. Ok, there seems to be a lot of concern about women lying about rape here. Luckily, Stephanie Hallett just wrote about that very thing! This has good info for anyone curious about exactly how often that really happens.

  17. dirtydudley says:

    William makes a great point about false rape allegations versus actual rape victims. During my first eight casual/serious relationships with girls/women, as our relationship developed, her previous sexual assault took a role in the relationship. I was 24, and 100% of the women I pursued were survivors who didn’t report anything. I don’t think that I’m a statistical anomaly, I think a lot of men don’t furnish an atmosphere that allows the people closest to them to share these stories of dis-empowerment at the hands of others. (Thanks Madonna/Whore complex!) Considering the American circumstances, I think each of those women made the correct choice for themselves to not come forward. If being shamed as a liar is the most likely outcome, I (and I bet that most men) would do the same. We are far away from perfect justice, as even on this thread,I see a lot of reservation about false allegations instead of an honest appraisal of their rarity in the average American’s life. (It’s like fearing death by bear attack instead of car accidents)

  18. RoyStone says:

    We don't know what actually happened, only what the misogynist article said. I have read of cases of men spending years in jail, falsely accused of rape. They are let out when the woman admits she made up the story, but no compensation. I wonder how many guys are still doing time when there is no such admission. Genuine rape cases should be dealt with. In my state of Victoria, a person who knowingly makes a false statement to police can be charged with Perjury under the Crimes Act. However police have been instructed not to charge women who knowingly make false rape allegations, under pressure from misogynist groups. A woman can make life hell for an innocent man, and even send him to jail if she is an accomplished and convincing liar, with no risk to herself. The low conviction rate suggests that the rate of false accusation is high. However women's groups say this is an indication that the law is "soft" on rapists. In my state of Victoria, if a woman gives consent but is intoxicated, it is rape. If a woman gives consent but then withdraws it part-way through the act, then it is rape if the man does not withdraw immediately. An extra 15 seconds could cost him 15 years in jail. No wonder Mrs Palmer has become so popular!

    • RoyStone, do you understand what the word misogynist means?

    • RoyStone you're talking rubbish. And you clearly don't understand what the word 'misogynist' means, you seem to be confusing it with 'feminist'. Look it up before using it again, please. You'll be embarrassed.

      Yes, there are cases of false accusation. But these pale in comparison to the amount of genuine rape cases which get neither reported or convicted. I would love for you to provide us with an example where a man was given 15 years in prison for not stopping having sex with a woman in the middle of it after she asked him to.

      You can't, can you? In reality, most men who rape do not get convicted at all. Those who do, even if the rape was brutal and they admit to it, generally get a lot less than 15 years in prison.

      "The low conviction rate suggests that the rate of false accusation is high." NO IT DOESN'T!!!!! It suggests that jury's don't take rape seriously and tend to blame the victim, just like you're doing right now.

      Please, retreat back to your hole in your home state of Victoria and get your dictionary out and look up 'Misogyny'. Presuming that you have a dictionary.

    • Thank you Katie. Roy, where exactly is Victoria?

    • I’ve read of people spending years at Guantanimo Bay for unsubstantiated terrorism charges or even no charges at all, but not all commentary on that issue is littered by dudes fearing false terrorism charges. What’s that about exactly?

  19. Crackers says:

    My sister in law is a serial false accuser. In high school she filed a false police report of attempted rape when her parents caught her sneaking out at night. Years later, she accused a FIVE YEAR OLD neighbor boy of raping her 4 year old daughter after she and the mom got in a tiff. How do I know this? She drunkenly admitted it to me.

    I felt sorry for her. I supported her. I tried to help her, and believed in her unteil she admitted otherwise – then I didn’t judge her.

    Years later she and I got into an argument and guess what?

    My 16 year old son was accused, run through kangaroo court, and is now a registed sex offender. It’s been almost half his life ago, and he SUFFERS everyday, my other children have SUFFERED from the “unintended consequences”, and I live in hell knowing it was because of ME.

    Complete and utter hell.

    I understand why this girl plead guilty to something she didn’t do – my son did it as well. When you are threatened FOR REAL with extreme punishement unless you accept a guilty plea for somehthing you didn’t do, you accept the plea.

    ’cause 90% of the time you WILL be severely punished if you don’t.

    This is not a Male vs. Female topic. Every falsely accused man has a mother, sister, girlfriend, wife, grandmother, aunt, female friend who is plunged into a never ending hellish nightmare to witness someone they love being put through this.

    The only lesson to be learned here is how corrupt and broken our justice system is.

    • People like that pray on the system. Actual rape cases are personal, traumatic, and if they had bothered to really look into you in-laws claims they would have seen her for a multiple faker. But the sad thing is they just don't. And the victims get hit again by this. Instead of taking rape seriously, we assume all men and women brave enough to try to put their attackers away are just lying like these other folks.

      Police authority is a large % BS, in many instances. Police are not perfect, they're people, just like everyone else, and they have bias and flaws and get hired for the wrong reasons and so on. But when our entire culture protects and loves the rapist, that's the mind set we need to fight.

      And what about the men that are raped and never admit it because to another man that's death. When men feel like women they feel less, in general. That's the mind-set we're fighting. Not just corruption, but the out and out entitlement and socialization that plagues men and women in this country and in the world.

      That interaction between your in-law and you should never have happened. If your story is true, your son shouldn't be a register sex offender, if the only testimony was from your in-law. I don't really believe your story, but in a world where anything can happen, I'm sure it could. Either way, it's not your fault if your story is true and your son is innocent. You should seek to overturn the decision. There are groups fighting for that. Those laws are mainly for offenders against children, sadly, most repeat rapists go unaccused.

  20. "here is little data about what percentage of rape reports are intentionally false–studies that do exist have small sample sizes and non-representative samples. But it shouldn’t matter. "

    For starters there's tons of data on the subject. Out of the several hundred non-partisan studies on the subject the average is showing 40-50% of all rape claims are false. Second, the accusation should indeed be investigated, but if found to be false then I fully support prosecuting the false accuser to the full extent of the law.

    • Justician says:

      BS is aptly named. The studies showing high numbers of false reports are based on researchers who are involved with police departments with rape cultures. The department in this article is an example–the rapes they don't bury are charged as false because they are sadly ignorant of the impact of trauma on memory, just for starters. It is perfectly normal for memories of severe trauma to be highly fragmented initially, with details emerging as the victim has time to recover. Studies that are better constructed–I.e., that use indicators other than just police prejudice–show very low rates of false reports.

    • Can you please link to these studies that support your statistics?

    • Still waiting for some back-up for your outrageous 40-50% statistic….

  21. From the (original, I think) Everett Herald article (http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110413/NEWS01/704139783)

    "Detectives in Colorado provided information to the Lynnwood police that was strikingly similar to the story told by the woman in 2008. There was forensic evidence collected during the investigation in Lynnwood three years ago. Police here likely will now submit it for testing."

    Got that? The Lynnwood cops *had forensic evidence* but didn't bother to test it before charging or convicting her!

  22. Focusing on "false rape allegations" only makes it that much harder for women who have been raped to come forward and get help.

  23. Read "Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape" for a truly enlightening look at rape culture (and how our society supports it).

  24. The unreliability of eyewitness testimony and the cognitive and other such problems with memory, recall, attention, motivation, etc. would be less of an issue if only we shift focus to perpetrators of rape rather than continuing to focus on the complainant and ' blaming the victim'… this basic model has to change… so a more impactful change needs to be a systemic one…. starting with intake workers , the criminal justice syste, etc etc…. point well taken though….

  25. I usually stay away from the antirape stuff and stick to contraception advocacy as the solution to everything, including the best defense against rape, but this one is a particular outrage, so kudos.

    http://tinyurl.com/townBC2 http://tinyurl.com/towncontraception http://tinyurl.com/opcensor

  26. I was raped by a relative, reported it to the police, and was told- to my face- by the prosecuting attorney, that I was a whore and led him on. He got me pregnant that time, and raped me again a few years later, luckily he didn't father my second child. It still makes me want to spit in the faces of the prosecuting attorney and the cops that worked the case (I didn't bother reporting the repeat offense, or another rapist- I got paybacks my own way). I was a CHILD- 14 years old, yet I was a whore that led on a relative and got pregnant? Why is it that rape victims are treated like they did something to make the rapist pig do the crime? In Biblical times, rapists were stoned to death- and I think they should still be stoned to death.

  27. OMFG. As a resident of Lynnwood, I called the police department directly and was told that the $500 was returned to her and that the state is working to have her record expunged. Still, it gives me no confidence in my community officers – we have an epidemic of aggressive police in Washington State (the Seattle police are currently under investigation with the DOJ) and though this is a relatively safe area, it's sad that is has to come to this over and over again. Additionally, had they taken her seriously, perhaps those other women would have been spared their rapes. For shame.

  28. As I understand it, more than 1 in four women are raped in the U.S. before the age of 25…

    1 in 12 males students surveyed had commited acts that met the legal definition of rape. Furthermore, 84% of the men who had commited such acts said what they had done was definitely not rape…

    Only 16% of rapes are ever reported to the police.

    Many of these men understand that women have a sexual “off” switch, that even though the woman does not like what is going on, she will just not fight, won’t say no. They use it against women. I only know of this because of the stories my wife has told me. As it stands, she has been raped at least 3 times by three different men. Because 2 of them were the boyfriend at that time, she did not realize that it was rape until I pointed it out to her during our conversation. This is far too common in the U.S..

    As a side note, my wife and I find it funny that the counties with the least reported problems also have legal prostitution…

    • “counties with the least reported problems also have legal prostitution…”


    • Yes, women do just give up their rights to their own bodies and well-being. They don’t insist on condoms, they go ahead with sex even if they don’t want it, they do things in bed that they are not comfortable with. Conditioned into this by parents who never told them that their bodies are only theirs, that no jerk can ever have any say in what to do when it comes to sex and health, that if a man insists on no condoms, by this very fact he shows that he does not care about her, about what will happen to her if she gets pregnant or an STD. And it is such men that don’t deserve to even touch her. Unfortunately, these women don’t understand that they deserve better… It is very tragic and it happens all too often. Parents must have very straight talks with their daughters and sons about these matters, and must love them.

  29. This happened to me, and I have something to say to the police: If this guy goes on to do something else, to someone else, and gets caught and convicted, you owe me a MAJOR APOLOGY. Keep your effin money.

  30. It has come to my attention that a woman was sexually assaulted at a local detox facility (within earshot of police officers) was arrested because she used a slang term for labia in front of a female police officer who was offended by her use of a curse word while trying to describe her experience.

    We should not be arresting rape victims for cursing.

    Worse, because the city is afraid of being sued for allowing the assault, they’re making up all sorts of other reason to get the victim to to plead guilty to doing something wrong as to minimize her chances of suing the city. They ask her to pled quilty to verbal assault, she refuses and they add a new charge. Now, the sexual assault survivor is up to four charges: disorderly conduct, verbal assault on an officer, resisting arrest, and the latest is assault and battery (8 months later, no less).

    I’m sickened. I’ll probably never suggest that detox center to my clients (I work in the addictions field) and I’ll probably be too afraid to report any sex assault to the police if I’m in that boat. I’m too afraid of the local police and city attorneys.

    We women have a lot of work to do.

  31. Brutal. Just brutal. The horror these women went through, the humiliation. Poor, poor souls…

  32. I only have one question. What woman (or man) in their right mind is charged with false allegations and pleads guilty as well as pays the fine and goes about their life? If it were me, and some asshat cop accused me of and eventually charged me with falsifying a report and I 100 % did not, there would be no end to my fight to the contrary.

  33. What the actual fuck, Ms?!!!! Are you out of your mind?!!? Why do you, as a feminist webpage, not provide a safe space for me as a woman and instead let misogynist assholes continue this bullshittery in the comments?! WHY?! This is like another assault- this one online. I expect better from you.

  34. I was raped in high school but things were shitty enough already that I didn’t want to make them any worse by coming forward and trying to get the guy charged. I told my mom about it, but lied to her about most of the incident so she wouldn’t know who did it. The point of telling her was to get on birth control in case it happened again (the guy did not use a condom). Can you believe that? Me at 14 years old thought it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that I would be raped again during high school. I only share because there are so many posts here I’ll be like white noise.

    Also, I think proven false accusations *should* be punished. But if the police department is going to charge someone with a crime like that they need to prove it!

  35. Anoyomous says:

    I was raped by Elton R. Lockings. Rape is no joke and to speak about this horrible act must be used wisely. You are the one that wrongfully have to suffer, not the rapist. Because they are going to deny that the rape has ever taken place. Please do not slander anyone and ruin anyone reputation. However, if someone rapes you, tell someone and seek help. If you are silent, it will destroy you. You will lose in two ways, (1) your self esteem and your voice. Do not ruin your own reputation by not reporting the rape. When you do not report the rape, what pleasure your rapist have over you.

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