The Lie That Doesn’t Get Acknowledged.

Arkansas-ROH When someone makes an accusation of rape, especially on college campuses these days, the consequences for the accused are often horrific. For the accuser, the actual accusation carries very little risk.

Make no mistake about it, accusing someone of rape or saying that you were raped is a traumatic for the alleged victim and for the alleged rapist.

It doesn’t help that the deck is somewhat stacked in favor of a female accuser. The accused’s name is plastered across news reports and spread via social media. It is something that he can never outrun for the rest of his life. The accuser often remains anonymous, even if their story and charges are found to be not supported and false.

The reason for the disparity in naming victims in other crimes but not in rape is based on several morally repugnant actions of others. Far too often, victims – actual victims – are treated by others as “sluts.” Or “they were asking for it.” In some situations, we have heard of men coming up to a victim of rape and saying “I’m better than he was” or “do you like it rough” or some other comment from a depraved, sick mind.

Somewhere along the line, the burden of proof shifted from from proving a person guilty to “the accusation must be true and the accused must prove their innocence.” The foundation of that switch is the idea that no woman would ever lie about being raped. The accusation is therefore made beyond a wall of anonymity even if the woman’s story turns out to be one massive lie. (FBI stats show that false claims of rape are on par with other crimes. People, for whatever reason, lie about crimes being committed against them.)

But when a woman lies about being raped, what should happen?

One step in the right direction is what happened at the University of Arkansas.

Police arrested 20-year-old Lindsey Sweetin Thursday for filing a false police report about a sexual assault she originally said happened in the Harmon Parking garage on the University of Arkansas campus.

According to a police report, on March 8, Sweetin’s brother called the University of Arkansas Police Department to report that his sister had been sexually assaulted in the garage on March 5.

When police interviewed Lindsey Sweetin, she told them when she was walking back to her car in the deck after class, a man she described as being between 50 and 60-years-old with gray hair approached her and asked if she had any jumper cables.

Sweetin told officers she told the man she couldn’t help, and at that point she said the man “grabbed her and put his hand up her shirt, and then pulled her towards him and put his other hand down her pants and touched her buttocks” and then the man “pushed her against the back of her car and put his hand down the front of her pants, touching her vagina.” Sweetin told officers she sprayed the man with pepper spray and got in her car and drove away.

After the interview, police reviewed video footage from the Harmon Parking Garage during the time that Sweetin said the incident happened. Detectives did not find any men in the video matching the description Sweetin provided them. Detectives also spoke to potential witnesses who were in the garage at that time, and they told officers they did not hear or see anything out of the ordinary.

On March 11, Detective Josh Bowen interviewed Sweetin again at UAPD. Detective Bowen asked Sweetin if she was telling the truth about the incident, and Sweetin said no. When asked why she would lie, Sweetin said she did see a man that matched the description she gave on Dickson Street and he scared her, but that the man never followed her into the Harmon deck.

The police not only decided not to keep the woman’s name a secret, but they decided to prosecute her for lying to the police and making a false police report.

Luckily there was no male named by Sweetin as her rapist. The only good thing about this is that the only life that has been negatively affected is that of the liar. But what if there was another person involved? What if there was a guy walking around that suddenly found himself not only accused of a horrific act, but essentially convicted in the court of public opinion.

Even if he were cleared of all accusations, the accusations themselves are going to appear when an employer searches for his name on the internet.

The lie will follow and harm him for the rest of his life.

That’s not right.

In addition, the lie of false rape claims harms those who have been raped. People take their stories and experiences with greater skepticism because of the lie that was told by someone else.

If a person lies about being raped, not only do they harm an innocent person, but they harm others who have actually been raped. Because of that, we believe that if a person lies about being raped, they should lose the protection of their name being withheld by news agencies and as happened in Arkansas, they should be prosecuted.

This is one of those instances where both men and women who are innocent victims should have those who caused misery in their should be exposed and locked up.

There is too much at stake to do otherwise.

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