Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Police say woman lied about sexual assault, some readers comments are disturbing

The Beaufort Gazette of South Carolina reported on January 15, 2015 that a 21-year-old woman claimed she had been raped at gunpoint at Beaufort's Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. According to the initial news report: "Officers initially believed the suspect was a stranger to the woman, but later learned the 21-year-old victim and her attacker were acquaintances . . . ." Further, according to the police at the time: "The two were part of a group that went to Bay Street together, according to the release. At some point, the woman and suspect went into the park together, and the assault took place by the swings . . . . The victim and suspect then rejoined the group, which left the area together . . . ."

Doesn't sound right, does it? I've reviewed thousands of these stories, and if this had been an actual rape, it would have been very, very unusual. Alas, she's been charged with filing a false police report. Police say: ". . . witness statements and video evidence contradicted her allegation that she had been sexually assaulted by an acquaintance at gunpoint. She also refused to cooperate further when she was presented with the contradicting accounts. It is believed she used makeup to simulate bruising on her face. . . ." Further: "Investigators found that the woman and the acquaintance she accused had split off from a larger group at the park around 12:30 a.m., but the two returned together with no signs of distress. The woman passed police officers twice after the time she claimed she was sexually assaulted, but made no mention of the assault to law enforcement."

Police are withholding the woman's name for reasons that are not clear.

Perhaps most disturbing are some of the comments under the latest news story.

"Punishing false reports as traumatic events discourages real victims from coming forward. Punishing people who actually commit the crimes is much more important than punishing people who try to game the system or get revenge with them."

One reader destroyed that logic: "If a false sexual assault report can ruin lives then that sound like a traumatic event to me."

Another reader wrote: "I think identifying this woman serves no useful purpose. She needs counseling of some kind. Maybe identifying her would keep others from doing the same, however I just don't see the need for it." And: ". . . the column mentioned that she had been charged with Supplying false information to the Police. That in itself tells of the consequences, or at least a portion of them. Now, lets just wait till she is tried then print the sentence she receives, if any. That should serve as a warning to others."

You mean identifying her wouldn't serve as a warning to other young men? See, for example, here and here.