Pierce County prosecutors recently announced they have filed felony charges against a woman who made false rape allegations in order to deflect attention from child abuse reportedly inflicted on her son by her boyfriend.
Although the false allegations weren't pointed at anyone in particular (she said the three alleged unknown assailants had attacked her and her son as they walked home after running out of gas), that's often not the case and the incident points to larger issues. As Pierce County criminal defense attorneys, we recognize false allegations as a very real problem here and across the country.
It's not just rape. It also pertains to domestic violence, assault and other crimes. Victims' advocates, police and prosecutors are loath to believe that people would lie about such matters, particularly when so much is at stake. Cases like this prove that it happens probably more frequently than we'd like to believe.
This case received intense scrutiny because it involved a serious, traumatic brain injury suffered by a child. According to media reports, the mother brought the child to the hospital after she said he complained that his head hurt. Doctors later determined bleeding and swelling in his brain were so severe he required surgery to relieve the pressure and reduce the risk of permanent damage.
When questioned by detectives, she gave them the story of the three attackers, who she said beat her son as one of the men raped her.
It was only when her story began to fall apart that authorities learned that she had also allegedly coached her daughter to give authorities a false story, too. Detectives now believe the boyfriend beat the boy with a hanger. The 25-year-old boyfriend has since been charged with first-degree child assault (to which he's pleaded not guilty), while she is facing charges of first-degree rendering criminal assistance and tampering with a witness.
It's not clear exactly how many false allegations arise each year, but recent studies have put the figure at about 8 to 10 percent. Now that might seem relatively low, but consider this: The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that there are approximately 200,000 reported rapes each year. If 10 percent of those allegations are false, that means that 20,000 rape allegations are made each year with no basis in truth.
One of the biggest mistakes we see in cases where there have been false allegations is that the accused fails to recognize the magnitude of the potential consequences. The assumption exists that "If I didn't do it, I have nothing to worry about." Unfortunately, this is not always true, which is why false charges should never be taken lightly.
That means that trying to explain yourself absent an attorney is almost never a good idea. It's understandable when you're innocent to want to offer up your personal account. However, detectives who handle these cases are skilled interrogators, and without a lawyer, you are vulnerable.
Also in taking the matter seriously, you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer with a proven track record of success. Any promise of an easy defense in cases involving serious allegations is likely to cost you more in the long run. Courts are reluctant to find that legal counsel was inadequate in all but the most egregious circumstances, but many attorneys lack the experience necessary to effectively defend clients in these cases.
Authorities tend to give alleged victims the benefit of the doubt. You will likely not receive the same courtesy, regardless of the "innocent-until-proven-guilty" legal theory.
If you have been arrested for a sex crime in Tacoma, contact Timothy L. Healy at 888-312-3093 - a 24-hour hotline.
Report: Woman charged with felonies after alleged false rape story, April 14, 2014, Staff Report, Q13Fox.com
More Blog Entries:
Sex Crime Sentencing Vacated for Failure to Prove Force or Threat Thereof, March 12, 2014, Tacoma Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer Blog