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Research Finds Most Sexual Assault Reports to be True: Uncovering myths and practices, influencing change

The Problem

“False report” is a category or designation that is often misused by law enforcement on sexual assault cases. The overuse of this designation is fueled by widely‐held beliefs about the prevalence of false reporting. These beliefs often dictate the general discourse around rape and sexual assault in the United States; such beliefs also influence political and social support for initiatives to examine reporting standards or victim services. However, this discourse is often grounded in controversy and dominant social ideas of gender and sexuality, rather than actual data or analysis.


The Research

The range of false report rates of sexual assault and rape found by rigorous and reliable research most consistently falls within a range of 2 to 10%. This is consistent with the range of false reporting of other crimes. After reviewing available literature on false allegations and retrospectively studying false rape allegations at a major northeastern university, Lisak, et al., 2010 concluded that false rape allegations occur relatively infrequently.

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Last modified: 7/7/2022