FYI, my letter to Dr McGregor, in relation to a recent case of false complaint in which the offender was, as usual, treated with undue leniency by the Court.
Dear Dr McGregor
You were quoted in the Waikato Times on 08.10.08 as follows:
“Dr Kim McGregor, director of Auckland-based group Rape Prevention Education, said that about 2-10 per cent of rape claims were false, but an estimated 91 per cent of sex attacks were not reported. Dr McGregor said false rape allegations were often triggered by traumatic experiences and questioned the benefit of prosecution in such cases.”
While you are entitled to your opinion and to express it, no doubt your position will be duplicitous. I am sure that you would not question the benefit of prosecution of male sexual offenders whose behaviour was triggered by traumatic experiences, as indeed is true for many of them. You would probably advocate that sexual offenders be prosecuted for such reasons as punishment, social denouncement and deterrence of others, all the same reasons that we might prosecute false complainants, yet you seek to make a special exception for false complainants. Such complainants are likely to be women, and your position essentially sexist.
Your statement showed a callous disregard for the ruined lives brought about by false complaints concerning offences that carry huge sentencing tariffs. The fact you could be so uncaring towards the victims of false complaints causes one to question whether compassion is a significant motive at all in your work.
Your dissemination of statistics amounted to propaganda. You quoted a range of estimates for false complaints to ensure that the ridiculously low (and discredited) rate of 2% was mentioned but you failed to present any range of estimates for unreported “sex attacks”, preferring to mention only the highest estimate you could find. No mention was made of your definition of “sex attacks” as measured by the research producing that rate. No mention was made that both the phenomena of false complaints and unreported sexual crimes can only ever be roughly estimated based on chosen measurement criteria and assumptions. In my view you have breached your professional code of ethics by representing research in a deliberately misleading way to forward your own particular cause. No matter what the merits of your cause, they do not relieve you of responsibility to represent research honestly.
Further, you perpetrated the common feminist argument that because unreported sexual crime rates are high, this somehow means we should overlook false complaints. The two issues are largely separate and the argument is illogical. Concern about high unreporting rates in no way obviates concern about the huge violence of false complaints. Even if it were to be established that prosecution of false complainants will increase the rate of unreported crimes (which has not been established), it would not amount to an adequate reason for failing to prosecute false complainants. You might as well claim that it’s not a good idea to prosecute fraudsters because it might discourage honest traders from offering services. And if you had any inclination to remain honest you would acknowledge that the reasons for choosing not to report (possible) sexual crimes are many and varied, and that fear of being prosecuted for a false complaint will be a relatively minor reason.
If you hope to gain public sympathy for your cause, positions of hypocrisy, misleading statistics and illogical, manipulative argument will ultimately work against you. Men are thoroughly sick of being denigrated, lied about and treated unfairly, and we will blow the whistle on the types of transparent misinformation you and others in your industry keep spreading. I urge you to remain honest and fair in your representations; the true facts are sufficient for your cause.