If you have been falsely accused of a sexual offense you are not alone. I agree and understand that does not make your time in the hot seat happy, comfortable, or certain the truth will out.
Here is an article about sexual offense investigation and prosecution in the U.K. U.S. service members will see similarities–sadly.
“Guilty until proven nnocent: life after a false rape allegation.” Jonathan Wells, The Telegraph (UK), some takes and inferences.
- Victim centric investigations where no real investigation is conducted because investigators are told to believe the victim and who must get special permission to investigate further if they have some doubt or serious inconsistencies in the story. Anecdotally, I have heard that such permission is rarely if ever given.
- Name-shaming through command meetings where the accused is outed and excoriated upon arrest and before trial–that is, treated as if guilty.
- An accused so shamed who commits suicide or tries because they have been abandoned by persons and a system they thought they were defending and that was supposed to be there to defend them.
- When there is a trial and there is an acquittal, no “verdict of “innocent” rather than the inconclusive and morally ambiguous “not guilty”. How often do we see this when the case is over and adverse administrative actions follow or the accused is still treated as a criminal.
- Disrespect for due process and a fair trial where, after an acquittal, people say they ‘beat the system not that they were innocent. How many times have we heard this from prosecutors and those in the chain of command? “[L]eft without adequate support after the ordeal. [And e]ven when completely cleared, they say they can never regain the same social or emotional standard of life as they previously had.”
“I am tarnished, shamed and alienated. And I cannot describe how it feels to have had my country do this to me in such a cold blooded way. My hands still feel tied, and I am humiliated amongst my community – whilst the person who accused me is still walking the streets like a sorry victim, telling people that I have raped others. And this is all down to the system itself.”
- A system where, unlike a civilian federal court, a preliminary hearing finds no probable cause, but the charges are referred anyway because ‘we don’t agree.’ Keep in mind that the hearing used to be one to cull out baseless charges, but is now nothing but a check in the box toward trial–a mere formality disguised as some due process. In a federal district court, the charges are dismissed, although the prosecution can restart with new evidence–which is fine.
- A system, that until next year, could find a person guilty by either a vote of two out of three or four out of five–which appears contrary to the civilian system which requires unanimity of at least six.
- A system which mimics the old style private prosecution where the lawyers, apparently, have no ethical obligation of candor or truth.
- A system where those who falsely accuse are rarely held accountable and continue to retain any benefits already gained from the false accusation.
- A system where legislators use inaccurate research to justify their actions and who steadfastly refuse to explore the extent false allegations happen.
- A system that cares nothing for the collateral victims of those falsely accused–the accused’s wife, the accused’s children, the system.
- A system that can be abused in a messy divorce or child custody case to gain leverage where none should exist (I suspect a review of military cases over the last five years might see a significant increase in such cases).
“In the domestic abuse system, the authorities – be this the police, the court or social workers – seem to believe the first person who makes the allegations. And whilst the police and social services don’t want to discourage women who have genuinely been abused from coming forward, the result is that if you are innocent and falsely accused, the system will, almost 100 per cent of the time, support your accuser’s attempts to frame you.”
“James says his wife accused him of rape as an added bargaining chip in ongoing divorce proceedings: “She told me to back off in the family courts – she was losing the case to have residency of our children. I said I wouldn’t. So she went down to the local police station and alleged that she’d been repeatedly raped by me during our marriage.”
Almost immediately, James’ life became a nightmarish whirlwind: he was arrested during his twins’ 7th birthday party, had various personal effects seized, and was required to attend police stations for interviews in the dead of night.
James lost residency of his children, resigned from his job and, he says, was pushed to the brink of suicide. However, justice prevailed: the charges against James were dropped within the year.
“Things did sort of turn out all right,” he says. “But not until I had almost ended my life.
- A system where the prosecution of false or ambiguous cases diverts time and resources from those cases which deserve prosecution and accountability.