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Woman Jailed For Retracting Rape Allegations

Woman Jailed For Retracting Rape Allegations

We hear a lot (probably more than we should) about false rape cases, but this story from Great Britain is certainly a bizarre twist on the theme.  According to the Guardian, the woman called the police and said that she had been raped six times by her husband; the police then charged her husband with rape. 

As the case proceeded, however, she decided that she wanted to drop the charges, even though she continued to maintain that they were true.  She then said that she had lied about the charges, at which point she was arrested for “perverting the course of justice.”  Finally, a few months later, she said that she had actually been raped, and that her denial was caused by “emotional blackmail” from her husband, from whom she is now divorced.  She explained that her husband and family had convinced her to drop the charges, since he would receive a long jail sentence and she would not.

The woman is now appealing an 8-month jail sentence for “making a false retraction.”  The judge chastised her for wasting a “substantial amount” of time and money for the police, and explained that she would have received a 2-year sentence for false rape charges.  She’s currently in prison pending her appeal, although her lawyer is trying to get her out on bail.

What astonishes me here is the absence of the rapist, who apparently pleaded not guilty to rape in an earlier hearing.  The fact that this woman was first assaulted (multiple times!) and then subjected to extreme emotional trauma by her family more than excuses any resources she may have “wasted,” and the whole case sends a horrifying message to rape victims, who are often subjected to these kinds of pressures by their families and perpetrators.

Holly Dustin, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, explained, “Imprisoning a woman for a ‘false retraction’ of a rape allegation sends out a chilling message that the criminal justice system is still in the dark ages in relation to sexual violence and does not understand the pressure women come under from perpetrators during the legal process.”

The worst part of the case is that the woman was willing to cover for her rapist by going to jail.  And the court responded, not by sending a message to sexual assault perpetrators who threaten and coerce victims to stay silent, but by punishing the victim herself.  It’s a blatant case of victim-blaming, conducted by the British judicial system.  We can only hope that the appeal is successful, and that this case doesn’t turn into some kind of terrible precedent.

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93 comments

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5:40AM PST on Nov 21, 2010

OK THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE OUTRAGE. SO THIS WOMAN IS SITTING IN JAIL WHILE THE MAN WHO RAPPED HER MANY TIMES IS OUT THERE LOLLYGAGGING AROUND, POSSIBLY ABUSING MORE WOMEN . HOW ABSURD AND DISGUSTING. SHAME ON YOU GREAT BRITAIN.

11:03PM PST on Nov 20, 2010

There ARE 2 sides to evey story. thanx

2:31AM PST on Nov 14, 2010

@Gretchen Small

I think the thing that is hard to know is which allegations are false and which are retracted due to coersion. Often times, it would be impossible to know without using even more police resources. This whole area is a minefield.

11:31AM PST on Nov 13, 2010

as a former police officer, i can say that sexual assault cases are usually extremely difficult to bring to prosecution....there is usually a dearth of direct evidence, since consent is the key issue. most cops take sexual assault very seriously and are very frustrated when it turns out to be a false charge....which does happen.

if someone can convince law makers to provide the means to protect rape victims from coercion, so that genuine victims would not recant, police officers would rejoice. but before you condemn the system for charging a woman with "filing false report" or whatever it is called in the statutes of a particular state, you have to look at the immense waste of time and resources that go into investigating false charges....which really, really harms the real rape victims, when police resources are spread to thin.

6:49PM PST on Nov 11, 2010

This article demonstrates the life-wrecking effects of a false rape accusation. The smear is repeated ad nauseam by irresponsible or malicious people.

7:33AM PST on Nov 11, 2010

@Tom O.

The prison systems are overcrowded and overburdened. There seems little point in jailing anyone who's being free isn't a danger to themselves or others. False accusation is definitely serious and should be dealt with but I would disagree with incarceration.

In this particular story there seems to be not enough information to know whether multiple rapes occurred or false accusation occurred.

6:26AM PST on Nov 11, 2010

So she was "raped" multiple times, but only "remembered" during a divorce proceeding? Isn't it amazing how men that were divorced are *always* abusive, rapists, etc? Funny how that works, eh? 54%, or whatever it is, of men, are criminals.

Nah, that's not sexist.

Btw, Amelia. False rape accusers do one group of people a huge favor... actual rapists. By protecting and nurturing false rape accusers, you pretty much directly help rapists.

1:58AM PST on Nov 11, 2010

@Sabrinna

It's not the words that do the damage but what follows. No doubt rape must be a horrible thing to go through, but so is getting your name tainted for the rest of your life and spending a potentially large portion of it in gaol, where if Hollywood has taught me anything, you are likely to get raped yourself. Rape and getting gaoled for being falsely accused are two different experiences, but both are devastating to the victims and potentially destroy lives.

If someone is found guilty of rape, they should be gaoled for the appropriate time. If someone if found falsely accusing someone of rape, they should be sent to gaol for the same amount of time that they were trying to send the other party. Doesn't matter if you're male or female. This is what equality is about.

Being a victim of rape or being falsely accused of rape are equally bad experiences, just in their own different ways. Being a victim of neither but hearing the horror stories of both sides, this is just my opinion.

12:51AM PST on Nov 11, 2010

@Tom O.

There is a huge difference between false accusation and rape. One is words, the other is physical assault. If a man falsely accused a woman of raping him, I'd say the same thing. It's not sexist when placed in context.

12:49AM PST on Nov 11, 2010

@Tom O.

There is a huge difference between accusation and rape. One is words, the other assault. If a man falsely accused a woman of raping him, I'd say the same thing. It's not sexist when put into actual context.

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