False Rape Allegations: Do they Lead to a Wrongful Conviction Following the Indictment of an Innocent Defendant?

Katie Hail-Jares, Belén Lowrey-Kinberg, Katherine Dunn, Jon B. Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

False rape allegations are a serious concern. However, the role of false rape allegations on wrongful convictions is relatively unknown. Here, we examine the impact of false rape allegations on cases outcomes involving factually innocent defendants. The Preventing Wrongful Convictions Project compared “near misses,” cases where charges against factually innocent defendants were dismissed following indictment, to wrongful convictions. Using a subsample of 207 sexual assault cases, we employed bivariate and multivariate analysis to better understand the impact of false rape allegations on case outcome. False rape allegations accounted for 4% of wrongful convictions in the sample and 45.6% of near misses. False allegations were more common among cases involving white and better-educated defendants. The presence of a false rape allegation contributed to a 10 times greater likelihood of a case ending in a near miss than a wrongful conviction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-303
Number of pages23
JournalJustice Quarterly
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 23 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • False rape allegations
  • innocent defendants
  • sexual assault
  • wrongful convictions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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