Dear Members and Advocates,
This past week, we revisited the Pennsylvania Record account of the five female students who falsely accused a male student of sexual assault. Law enforcement believed them and apparently a prosecutor did, too.
The Jacksonville Florida Times Union had as its lead story on the front page of a Sunday edition in the summer of 2016 an article on attorneys, judges, and advocates who were saying that Florida had lowered the standard on what it takes to find an individual guilty of certain offenses, all based on the witness of one person. I had read previously that Florida had lowered the bar for children since children do have more difficulty in knowing how to report abuse. Proof that the standard was now too low was the number of cases where innocent people were being convicted and incarcerated on the testimony of just one person. Of course, where is this most likely to occur? Answer: in alleged sex crimes.
The case given in the Times Union was that of a man who had been convicted of molesting a 12-year-old girl. After serving 18 years in prison, the accuser, who had turned 30 years of age, admitted that she had lied. Her mother, who was the alleged perpetrator’s girlfriend at the time, was angry with him and had her daughter lie about the molestation so that he would have to go to prison. It worked! It worked for 18 years before he was released. He was imprisoned all on the statement of a 12-year-old girl. This was the concern expressed by the attorneys, judges, and advocates who were trying to warn Floridians of the travesty that was taking place and will continue to take place until our leaders make the necessary changes.
About 15 years ago, I was present in a public-school faculty meeting where the principal warned all teachers, particularly the men, to never be alone with a student. He referred to a case in south Florida where three female students were angry with one of their male teachers, so they decided to all lie, accusing the teacher of sexual assault. This was a case of three against one. Invariably, prosecutors seem to listen to the minors over the adults. The teacher was headed to prison when one of the female students came forward, saying that the whole thing was a lie to “get back” at the teacher.
Thomas G. Plante, editor of the American Psychological Association’s professional journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice, stated that even though most allegations of sexual abuse are true, not every report is valid. “Some ‘victims’ are sincere in their reporting, but, sadly and tragically, their reports themselves are not truthful. Other ‘victims’ have been susceptible to the suggestion of therapists, lawyers, the press, and others regarding repressed memories.” (Ahrens, 1995; Loftus, 2002; Price & McDonald, 2003) These so-called repressed memories are sometimes caused by the strong, suggestive manner in which counselors and therapists question the children.
Plante went on to say that “…some reports of abuse are intentionally untrue…” (Valladares, 2012)
According to the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence, false accusations by children occur at the rate of 2 to 10 percent. (Mikkelsen, E.J., T.G. Gutheil, and M Emens: False Sexual-Abuse Allegations by Children and Adolescents: Contextual Factors and Clinical Subtypes. American Journal of Psychotherapy 46: 556-70, 1992)
The FBI reported the percentage of false, forcible-rape accusations by all ages is higher than for any other Index crime. Eight percent of forcible rape complaints are found to be false, while false accusations for all Index crimes is two percent. (FBI report link found in BBC’s “The truth about false assault accusations by women”, by Katty Kay, September 2018)
Unfortunately, I did not keep the source of one particular article that I read a few years ago, but it reported on a study that found that approximately 7 percent of claims of molestation made by minors are untrue. This occurs mainly with children that have thought processing difficulties, such as ADHD, bipolar, etc. The study did NOT show that having any of these thought processing difficulties predisposes children to think things happened to them that really did not; only a very small percentage do. The problem was found in the way some over-zealous therapists and counselors questioned the children. The children were found not to be intentionally lying but believed the incidents really did occur, when in fact, they did not.
What I read over and over again is that the above research should be ignored as so many sex crimes are not reported. Should that negate the fact that there are innocent people being sent to prison for years who never committed the sex crime they were accused of?
We hear that having a discussion on these false accusations will keep real victims from coming forward. Does this mean that we are not to be concerned about innocent people who are being sent to prison for years?
Are we no longer a society that can handle the needs of victims as well as preventing false imprisonment?
We hear all the time, “Oh, but if it saves just one child.” Yes, we all want to save that one child, but at the expense of incarcerating innocent people? No!
Florida needs to raise the bar on what it takes to imprison people for sex crimes from using just the testimony of a witness(es) to requiring some corroborating evidence.
Housing and Employment Opportunity for the Right Person – Male, Female, or Couple. If you enjoy water life, you are comfortable in modest housing, and you are willing to work hard, then you may be the right person for this opportunity. An FAC advocate and owner of a Koi Fish farm in Northwest FL is looking for help. The job provides a 28-ft mobile home with utilities and base pay, located on their 3-acre family farm . It involves raising Koi fish and pond plants, shipping them to various locations, and occasional diving expeditions in the Gulf area (when qualified). There is a 90-day trial period. If you have an interest in applying, please call 833-REPEAL, Option 1 or email [email protected] . We will forward your information to the local County Coordinator to set up an interview with the business owner.
Housing is Needed – We receive calls daily from members looking for housing. If you have housing to rent or purchase, please contact email [email protected] or call 833-273-7325, option 1. We will only share the information with the FAC Outreach team and the County Coordinator in your area.
Employment Opportunities in the Tampa area: Request #1. Landscaper to work on a yard including leveling the yard, changing some of the yard to mulch, and consulting on sod or seeding, weed removal, and possibly a flower garden. Request #2. Handyman to build a small deck, repair a tent shed, and help to build some simple storm windows. Request #3 House cleaning – prefer a couple for a full day of cleaning. Request #4. A FAC member who owns or works at a tree service to take down a sizable tree. If you are interested in any of these jobs, contact [email protected] or call 321-754-0446.
November 11 Thursday at 8:00pm ET – phone 319-527-3487. The New Member Orientation Call is open to all members ask questions about the organization, share resources, discuss local issues and learn about volunteer opportunities. This month the call will be facilitated by FAC County Coordinators Danell (Indian River) and Dessie.(St Lucie) with special invitation to the members in their counties. If unable to connect, text “CALL ME” to 319-527-3487 to receive call back and be joined to the meeting.
November 13 Saturday Family Support sessions – Therapist-led group session via Zoom, for family member or loved ones of registered citizens only, not the for the registered person. Must be FAC member to participate. Contact [email protected] or call 833-273-7325, Option 1.
November 17 Wednesday at 6:00pm ET – Brevard Meet up in Viera. Join Membership Chair, Anita, and the Brevard County Coordinators for Coffee and Conversation following the Brevard Re-Entry Task Force meeting. For location, RSVP to [email protected]ncommittee.org or call 833-273-7325, Option 1.
November 19 Friday at 7:00pm ET – Fearless Group Celebrates ONE YEAR of the Peer-led Support group – You are Not Alone. . Dial (727) 731-2927 to join in celebrating the one year anniversary of the Fearless Group and the peer leaders Daphne and Don. For more information about the support group, contact [email protected] or call 321-754-0446, or see Fearless Group Post.
Need to Talk? FAC has peer volunteers that are here to talk one-on-one, call 904-452-8322. Volunteers are not available 24/7 but you will receive a call as soon as possible. If you have an emergency, call 911, or helpline at 1-800-273-8255 or a crisis center (Listing of Crisis Centers and Hotlines)
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