False Rape Accusations

Reading & Watching List

Here’s an annotated list of the best, most up-to-date journalism and statistics around rape reporting. Any American who wants to engage in debate (on either side) on this issue should be *at least* this informed. This is a better use of your time than any number of panel discussions on cable news, and really provides a snapshot of our society now. Everything I’ve listed is also, to the extent this issue allows, enjoyable to consume.

Painstaking journalism that reads like a thriller, this piece won the Pulitzer Prize several years ago. Subsequently This American Life did a full episode on the story, and Netflix has acquired rights for a show based on it. But trust me, read this.

I feel like the world desparately needed this piece. Well-researched, concise, and common-sense, this piece goes beyond statistics to clearly lay out patterns and psychology.

Investigative piece out of Minnesota, 2018.


Police disbelieved a woman’s story and fail to do the most basic investigation; they close the case. Then the same two men kidnap and rape a female police officer. Perpetrators turn out to have lived just one floor down in the same building as the original victim.

If you’re more of a statistics wonk, this 2012 analysis hits the spot. It’s a meta-analysis of all the best available statistics around rape reporting and how truth is evaluated by differing police departments. This is the best fact sheet of its kind available online.

False Rape Reporting Fact Sheet

Massive investigative journalism piece out of Canada’s Globe and Mail. One in five reports of sexual assault are dismissed by police as unfounded. This piece won multiple awards and led to 37,000 cases being reviewed, and hundreds reopened.

Following the death of Freddy Gray in a police van in 2016, the Department of Justice conducted an analysis of police practices in Baltimore. It issued a report of findings, along with recommendations called a “consent decree.” I believe that these sorts of documents are essential for Americans to understand the real state of our society. Like, if I could mandate a civics reading list it would include the 9/11 Commision Report and the recent DOJ investigations for Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago.

At any rate, for this reading list we care about the “sexual assault” section, pages 123 through 128. Read it and weep.

Along with the Duke case, Rolling Stone’s cover story A Rape on Campus is often cited as proof positive that women lie about rape and destroy lives doing so. This exhaustive autopsy of what went wrong, conducted by a gold-standard panel of media watchdogs speaks to journalism’s ability to police its own failures (almost instantly women on the Slate podcast had tough questions for the Rolling Stone author, and things unraveled from there). Also of note: “Jackie” never named names, so no specific men were slandered, and Rolling Stone lost in court and so literally paid for this https://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php

I also happen to think most men would benefit from a marathon-watch of Forensic Files, purely with an eye to the astonishing breadth of violence against women, and circumstances in which women are raped and rape-murdered. The following two episodes are crucial, for the extremety of the crime, and for the lengths to which the perpetrator went to ensure the woman seemed like a liar.

(FF is on Netflix but also al over the web, some episodes on YouTube)