Why Would Anyone Make A False Allegation Of Sexual Assaulted?
Much ink has been spilled over the military’s handling of sexual assaults over the past decade. Some in the general public think that the military doesn’t take sexual assaults, or allegations thereof, seriously, or worse yet, that the military establishment is complicit in crimes against women in or out of the military. There are special interest groups, media outlets, and politicians, like Senator Kristen Gillibrand, who have led the charge to push a narrative that women in the military are being preyed upon by their male counterparts with impunity. Whether there is any truth or data that supports this notion, the military has taken action, both in and out of the court system. Over the next several months, MJA will cover some angles of “Sexual Assault in the Military” that does not get much attention.
As former Judge Advocates, and now a civilian law firm that specializes in the criminal defense of active duty, MJA is frequently asked by opposing counsel, law enforcement, medical, friends, and family: “well if the alleged victim is lying, why would she ever lie about something so serious as sexual assault?”
In the military there are many motives for the alleged sexual assault victim to lie as to whether the incident occurred or not, or whether the sexual act was consensual. Below, are the top three motives to fabricate that MJA has uncovered in the past several years.
- The alleged victim is married. When there is little doubt that sex occurred between the accused and the alleged victim, and the alleged victim is married, it places the alleged victim on the horns of a dilemma where she needs to make a decision between taking responsibility for the adulterous act, and the harsh consequences that follow; or, she can claim to her husband, friends, family, law enforcement that she was really drunk, and did not know what she was doing, and she was taken advantage of in her drunken state. If you were the alleged victim, and you had a choice between making a false allegation, and play the victim card, or take accountability and admit you cheated on your husband, what would you do?
- Consensual acts can be punitive. Under the UCMJ, active duty military, including women, can be charged and prosecuted for fraternization, adultery, under-age drinking, all of which are consensual in nature. Thus, a 20 year old female, Corporal in the Army, who has sex with a male Specialist from the same unit at an off post party, would be in violation of two specifications of Punitive Article 92 for fraternizing, and under-age drinking, as well as in violation of Punitive Article 134 for the adultery. However, if that same Corporal says that she was really drunk, and was taken advantage of by the Specialist at the party, then it is highly unlikely the command would take any punitive action against her; but rather, the command would treat her has a victim of sexual assault, and give her a Victim Legal Counsel, and she would be moved out of the unit. The unintentional consequence of the military forcing all servicemembers to take sexual assault training is that the women servicemembers are intimately familiar with how her command would treat her if she was a “victim.”
- Lying in the military is a crime. An often over looked motive to fabricate is the lie itself. Under the UCMJ, a servicemember who provides a false official statement can be charged under Punitive Article 107. At MJA, we often call this the “continuing” motivation to lie, that being the alleged victim sticking to her original false allegation in order to protect herself from her own prosecution. Taking the same 20 year old, female, Army Corporal, above, if she told command or investigators that she was a victim of a sex crime, but then felt guilty or had second thoughts about her original allegation of sexual assault would have to make a very difficult decision on whether to recant her original story, or face prosecution for a false official statement. If you are keeping track, this Army Corporal would now be facing two 92’s, a 107, and a 134 if she decided to recant her story. Do you see why alleged victims will subject themselves to a long, arduous judicial process, including rape kits, cross examinations from defense counsels, and the embarrassment of taking the stand? If your answer is self-preservation, you are correct.
We would be honored to serve as your sexual assault defense lawyers during the period of your military legal process. Please get in touch and arrange your free initial consultation.
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