Twice this week in the wake of the news reports that Jussie Smollet may have faked a hate crime, commentators on national news cautioned about false reporting of crimes. And, yes, we all should be worried about false reporting, but contrary to popular belief, sexual assaults are rarely falsely reported (though sometimes victims do mis-identify the assailant in cases of stranger rape) and rates of false report are no more likely in cases of sexual violence than in other crimes.
When Clint Van Sandt was asked on the Today Show or Mika Brzezinski ranted about waiting for all of the facts to come out, why did they choose cases of sexual violence (Brzezinski referenced the Brett Kavanaugh hearing and Van Sandt dropped Duke Lacrosse and UVA)? First, and importantly, though none of these cases resulted in successful prosecution does not mean they didn’t happen. And, there is no evidence that any of the victims, including Christine Blasey-Ford made false accusations.
There are, however, cases of white people falsely accusing Black men of crimes. And, I don’t mean the kind of mis-indentification that took place in real crimes like the rape and beating of the Trisha Melli—otherwise known as the Central Park Jogger–or Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, or Deborah Brotherton-Sykes and Darryl Hunt, I mean racial hoaxes like those of Charles Stuart and Susan Smith. Charles Stuart stabbed and killed his pregnant wife and claimed a random Black man did it and Susan Smith drove her babies into a lake and drowned them and claimed a Black man had car jacked her.
These are cases of false accusations. These cases are much more similar to the case of Jussie Smollet who not only blamed a crime that never happened on a Black man but in fact paid two Black men he knew to fake an attack.
Every time we equate false accusations with sexual violence we make it that much more difficult for victims to report and be taken seriously.
Mr. Van Sandt and Ms Brzezinski, if you need a binder full of racial hoaxes, I can provide, so that next time you decide to comment on false accusations you can choose something different than sexual violence claims, that though un-prosecuted, have never been determined to be false accusations.