"We gave the accuser benefit of the doubt"-- USAF Investigator

  • Dr. Charles McDowell, formerly of the US Air Force's Office of Special Investigations, discovered that 27% of Air Force women who claimed they had been raped later admitted making false accusations of rape. The admission usually came when they were asked to take a lie detector test. With these admitted false accusations he was able to develop 35 criteria distinguishing false accusations and those known to be genuine. Three independent judges then examined the remainder of the cases. Only if all three reviewers independently concluded the original rape allegations were false did they rank them as "false." The total of false allegations became 65%.

    The study was buried and Dr. Charles McDowell was ostracized and reassigned.

    In an interview in the June 1985 issue of Chicago Lawyer, McDowell told Rob Warden, the editor.
  • Q: How was the model developed?
    A: It is based on a study of 1,218 cases that were initially investigated as rapes. Of those, 460 were proven rapes, 212 were disproved allegations, and 546 cases remain unresolved.

    Q: What were your criteria for classifying a rape accusation as disproved?
    A: There was just one criterion. In each case, the victim ultimately admitted that the allegation was a hoax.

    Q: All 212 of those cases are now admitted to have been false allegations?
    A: Yes. That's the reason that we have a leftover category of 546 cases. My personal opinion, based on the evidence, is that many of those also are false allegations. but they are not admitted hoaxes, and we have not classified them as disproved. We have been extremely conservative in classifying an allegation as false for purposes of the study.

    Q: What were your criteria for classifying an allegation as proved? Are these all convictions?
    A: They're not all convictions. Some are, but the remainder are cases in which the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence support the allegation so strongly that there really is no other logical conclusion.

    Q: Then your standard for classifying an allegation is false?
    A: Definitely. If there was a margin for error, if there was any area in which we gave the benefit of any doubt, it was in favor of a rape."


  • 40 percent of complainants eventually admitted that no rape had occurred in a 9-year study conducted by former Purdue sociologist Eugene J. Kanin. (Source: Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1994)
  • 50 percent of accusers recanted their rape charges in a study of two large Midwestern universities by Kanin.
  • More than 25 percent of rape accusers admitted -- either just before they took a lie detector test or after they had taken and failed it-- that they had lied about the charges in a 1985 Air Force study of 556 rape accusations. A further investigation by independent reviewers found that 60 percent of the original rape allegations were false.
  • One in four rape reports were unfounded in a 1990 and 1991 Washington Post investigation in seven Virginia and Maryland counties. When contacted by the Post, many of the alleged victims admitted that they had lied.
  • In a 1996 Department of Justice study of 10,000 sexual assault cases analyzed with DNA evidence over the previous seven years, 2,000 excluded the primary suspect, and another 2,000 were inconclusive.
  • According to Linda Fairstein of the New York County District Attorney's Sex Crimes Unit, "there are about 4,000 reports of rape each year in Manhattan. Of these, about half simply did not happen." Source: Fairstein,'s book, Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape
NOT ADMITTING IT is also a problem....

A woman has to admit that she lied in order for a rape charge to be determined as false, in most studies and in most courts and communities. Most, if not all, police departments will not declare a rape charge as false just because the complainant fails to pursue the charge or does not cooperate on the case, regardless how much doubt the police may have regarding the validity of the charge
  • This material was excerpted from "Research Shows False Accusations of Rape Common," by Marc Angelucci and Glenn Sack