We were mistaken. Recently RADAR attributed the following statement to Linda Fairstein, who formerly headed the New York County District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit.
“There are about 4,000 reports of rape each year in Manhattan. Of these, about half simply did not happen. ... It’s my job to bring justice to the man who has been falsely accused by a woman who has a grudge against him, just as it’s my job to prosecute the real thing.”
Numerous places on the web report that Ms. Fairstein made this statement in her 1993 book “Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape”. Because the number cited in the quote was in synch with other credible research and because a citation was included, we trusted that the quote was authentic.
A few days ago, a March 21, 2007 article on ABC (http://abcnews.go.com/US/LegalCenter/story?id=2971265&page=3) came to our attention. That article quotes Ms. Fairstein as saying,
“you have to acknowledge that false accusations do happen – though they are less than 10 percent of reported rapes.”
Upon discovering that, we immediately did something that apparently none of the other websites that cite Fairstein’s quote have bothered to do. We went to the library, borrowed a copy of Ms. Fairstein’s 1993 book, and searched for the quote. Thus far we’ve been unable to find the quote anywhere in that book.
At RADAR, we do our level best to be prudent in the information we pass on to our readers. And when we become aware that we have repeated faulty information, our commitment is to inform you of that mistake.
Does mistakenly attributing the quote to Ms. Fairstein change our belief in the credibility of the research showing the rate of false allegation of rape to be in the neighborhood of 50 percent? It does not. RADAR still finds both the research of Purdue Univ. Sociology Professor Eugene Kanin and the research of Dr. Charles P. McDowell of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations to be credible. It would be easy to simply say they’re credible and leave it at that. Instead, we’d like to take this opportunity to show what it is about their research that leads us to consider it credible. Please see http://www.mediaradar.org/mcdowell_kanin_credible.php.
A great number of advocates try to mislead the public with the logical fallacy that acknowledging the reality of false accusations somehow harms real rape victims. By appealing to emotion, they hope you'll abandon reason so they can lead you down the primrose path. In doing so, they demonstrate their own disdain for the suffering their policies cause to innocent people who find themselves falsely accused.
Acknowledging the fact that some men suffer horrendously as a result of a false accusation of rape does not in any way diminish the reality of the horrendous suffering of a woman who has been raped.
RADAR has nothing but compassion and sympathy for victims of rape. They deserve justice. But the victims of those who would make a false allegation of rape, a different but equally horrible crime, are no less deserving of compassion, nor are they any less deserving of justice.
Date of RADAR Release: May 7, 2007
Want to improve the chance that they'll pay attention to your letter? Click here.
R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org