Sex assault allegations seem to be coming up with increasing frequency in politics. It’s a trend that arguably became more mainstream with allegations against Bill Clinton, it has more recently derailed the campaign of Herman Cain, and Donald Trump currently faces allegations of sexual misconduct.
Even outside of politics, an allegation of sexual misconduct can be what it takes to derail the accused’s life, whether or not the claims are baseless. In a sense, it’s become a kind of go-to cheap shot for someone who wants to bring another person down, and this approach is attractive due to how much damage it does for very little effort.
Due to what’s at stake, it’s important that we know of a solid, consistent method for telling whether a person is lying to the public about allegations of sexual misconduct.
There is a method that is strongly consistent, and the reasoning behind it is solid. It goes as follows:
If an alleged victim of sexual misconduct takes their allegation to information media before taking it to police, there is a very strong chance that they are lying.
The reasoning behind this is as simple as it is compelling. If it were the interest of the accuser to hold a sexual predator accountable for their misconduct, their most practical course of action would be to report the incident to the police, as soon after the incident as possible. The police can then launch an investigation to collect evidence and, in so doing, increase the likelihood of a conviction, which would greatly decrease the likelihood of subsequent sexual assaults.
If it were the interest of the accuser to cause an extraordinary amount of harm to a person’s reputation, their most practical way of going about it would be to bring such allegations to the media, who, in the interest in providing the public with compelling stories, would do most of the work of attacking the reputation of the accused, especially public figures.
If a person were lying about a sex assault claim, it would not be in their interest to report it to the police. Because the police would launch an investigation, claims made would be scrutinized in the interest in reducing the likelihood of a false conviction, the investigation process would search for evidence of a crime that never occurred, and the judicial process would provide ample opportunity for the accused to make a defense. False claims generally don’t hold up under ordinary scrutiny, and would be far worse off under the kind afforded by the criminal justice system. What’s more, the police don’t like being lied to, so the person making a false claim may be prosecuted for falsely reporting a felony.
There are those who would point out that victims of sexual assaults have a difficult time coming forward due to the scrutiny that they would face. The scrutiny of law enforcement is trivial compared to the public attention that they would face, whether or not their claims were sincere. However, by design, a person who lies by taking their claims to social networks or the mainstream media can do the damage they please while avoiding accountability. Due to the “deep pockets” principle, a person is more likely to sue a media outlet for committing libel per se, because the media outlet would have more potential for compensating for damages than some woman who works at JC Penneys, even though the media outlet merely took the woman’s word for it.
On the other hand, when the matter is reported to the police, there is little potential for public attention, and such a claim, if true, could be verified, and the offender can be held accountable. The likelihood for this occurring decreases with time as the victim sits on the incident without reporting it. In fact, the statute of limitations exists to protect citizens from baseless and frivolous claims that allegedly occurred a long time ago, especially considering the tendency of the human mind to recall events with increased inaccuracy as time goes on. Considering this, the sooner a sex assault victim reports the incident to the police, the better.
Based on the simple criteria above, consider on a case-by-case basis where alleged victims of sexual assault are taking their claims, whether their claims are directed against Bill Clinton, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, or anyone else, for that matter. Are they really seeking justice, or are they motivated by something else?