Brian Banks was a star football player in Long Beach Polytechnic High at the age of 16. Colleges, including the University of Southern California, wooed him. That all changed when a schoolmate accused him of rape.
Heeding bad legal advice to settle with a plea deal, Banks ended up with a sentence of five years in prison. After which, he spent another five years on parole with a GPS tracking device strapped to his ankle, having been labeled as a sex offender.
With the help of a private investigator however who recorded the confession of the accuser, Wanetta Gibson, that she was neither raped nor kidnapped, Banks received the vindication he deserved on May 24, 2012.
Sadly though, this is not the first incident that a rape case has been used to destroy a person’s character or damage his life. Attesting to this is a study published by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1996: Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science: Case Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence After Trial.
The study showcased 28 cases where all accused, ‘with the exception of one young man of limited mental capacity who pleaded guilty,’ were convicted by juries, but freed by DNA tests later. Each of the accused served an average of seven years in prison.
Like Being Raped
It may be apparent for some that false rape claim victims who served time face similar problems like their formerly convicted counterparts: depression, financial troubles, difficulty getting work, and fall-outs with family and friends.
What many people don’t know is, rape victims and those accused of rape can be in the same shoes.
In an article on Slate.com, a man accused of rape detailed how he got through his ordeal by relating well with his girlfriend who got raped:
“From the initial stages of suicidal thoughts and not being able to function to the long-term fear, mistrust, and guilt that are facts of our lives, it turns out that her experience of being raped and mine of being falsely accused of rape were very similar.”
Dr. Bruce Gross of the Forensic Examiner mentioned in his article that there are ‘numerous reasons why a person would lie about being raped.’
Citing a study conducted in a midwestern town and universities in the U.S., Gross said that “over half of the accusers fabricated the rape to serve as a ‘cover story’ or alibi.”
However, these accusers only cried rape to protect themselves. There are those who use rape cases to seek an outlet for their revenge, rage, or retribution.
But why a rape case?
Emotionally, psychologically, and socially damaging one’s life aren’t the only “selling points” of fabricated rape. It can also send anyone to jail without any hope of bail.
These are why it’s so easy for those with evil intentions to cry rape. Include the fact that “Essentially, there are no formal negative consequences for the person who files a false report of rape,” according to Dr. Gross, then one has got a guaranteed legal character-assassination weapon.
Free to Believe
Affecting, if not changing, people’s perception of a public figure is one sordid power of a false rape accusation.
Not everyone has the will, power, nor sometimes time, to consider surrounding circumstances, uncover hidden motives, much more scrutinize possible conspiracies behind a rape allegation. Consider this curious case from a fellow WordPresser.
A headline may be all that’s needed for a few to believe that a person charged of rape is guilty. And with today’s social media, the numbers can easily rise.
So what to do then?
Our inborn and constitutional right give us the liberty to believe what we choose to believe. But may our beliefs be always guided by sound truths and reason, that we may not put others in a place they do not deserve to be in.