by Alanna Carlson | Columnist
In an impromptu press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 2, President Donald Trump had some pretty absurd things to say about the current climate surrounding sexual assault and the #MeToo movement.
“It’s a very scary time for young men in America,” Trump said, claiming that men who are accused of sexual assault are “guilty until proven innocent.”
This is empirically untrue. In fact, statistically, our justice system has a tendency to believe men who deny rape or sexual assault allegations — even when we shouldn’t.
A study from two professors at University of Massachusetts and Brown University School of Medicine shows that about six percent of men have admitted to engaging in sexually coercive behavior. A study conducted by the peer-reviewed journal Violence Against Women puts that number as high as 38 percent.
In contrast, an average of two in every three rapes goes unreported, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. This means that only about 34 percent of all rapes is ever reported to the police. And this number is generous; according to Joanne Belknap, a sociologist, criminologist, and professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, most independent studies place the number of reported rape cases between eight and 10 percent of all rapes.
These statistics alone paint a clear enough picture of how it could not possibly be considered a “scary time for young men in America.” Numbers such as these pretty clearly show a general societal protection of men, whether innocent or guilty, against accusations of rape or sexual assault.
But to add to all of these statistics, false rape accusations are extremely rare. The most commonly cited figure says that roughly five percent of rape allegations are falsely reported. However, this number is misleading when talking about the overall problem. If we assume that only 10 percent of all rape cases are ever reported, and only five percent of those are found to be false, then the actual number of false reports falls closer to the .5 percent mark. Even if we say that 34 percent of rapes get reported, that’s still puts the number of false accusations at only 1.7 percent.
Furthermore, according to a study done by the British Home Office, out of 216 cases that were eventually classified as false allegations, only six lead to arrest, and only two of those ever had charges brought against them before the allegation was declared false. Two men out of a case study of over 200 cases faced possible false charges. That’s a less than one percent chance that a man falsely accused of rape faces legal ramifications. Less than one percent of the .5 percent of rape accusations eventually deemed false ever face charges — so in less than .005 percent of all rape cases, a man falsely accused of rape may face charges based on those accusations.
That’s some pretty conclusive evidence that young men in America — or men of any age, for that matter — have very little to worry about when it comes to the possibility of false allegations of sexual assault. Men are not “guilty until proven innocent,” as President Trump suggestions. In fact men are far more likely to actually be guilty of sexual assault or rape and get away with it than the other way around.
Let’s stop saying that it’s a scary time for men. Having a .005 percent chance of facing charges on a false rape allegation isn’t scary. Facing the overwhelming likelihood that someone who raped you will get away with it with little to no consequences, on the other hand — that is terrifying.