The Truth About the False Reporting of Rape

By Katie Feifer

It is a question that policymakers, journalists and citizens at large are asking with greater frequency. A series of high-profile cases involving rape charges -- perhaps most notably, the events at Duke University -- seems to have fueled the public perception that the false reporting of rape is commonplace. This is a perception unsubstantiated by by any reliable data or the experiences of most in law enforcement and victim advocacy. It is also a perception that is sharply at odds with this fact:  according to the United States Department of Justice, rape remains the most underreported crime in America. 

We think that the best way to counter misperceptions about the false reporting of rape is with a careful and considered exploration of the facts.  For this reason, we're pleased that Dr. Kim Lonsway and Sgt. Joanne Archambault (Ret.) - our allies at End Violence Against Women International - along with Dr. David Lisak of the University of Massachusetts, have published a piece that looks closely at the issue of false reporting, challenging public attitudes while proposing new ways of responding to rape cases that are unsubstantiated. One of their more interesting points is that when looking at methodologically rigorous studies, the rates of false reporting of rape coverages at between 2 - 8% - not the 41% or 90% that some (flawed) studies have reported. Read their piece here