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Woman's False Rape Claim Sets off Police Manhunt for Innocent Man
First an excerpt from the article, and then a few thoughts: Rape claim was cover for cheating on husband, charges allege Minneapolis Star Tribune 12/18/07 A St. Paul psychologist who claimed she was raped by a patient in her office in October 2006 has instead been charged with falsely reporting a crime. Authorities say that Jill Ajao, 41, made the rape claim to conceal an extramarital affair and to "protect herself and her family." The false report prompted a detailed police investigation, the release of a suspect sketch and surveillance photo and the sifting through of hundreds of tips, according to the criminal complaint filed last week. Police spokesman Tom Walsh said Tuesday that it was unusual for his department to seek the charges against a woman who claimed to be a victim and police did so only after a thorough investigation. "It's extremely rare. It's rare because we don't want victims not to report" a crime, he said. "But it's very clear that this young woman was not sexually assaulted. And given the fear that she created in our community, we felt that this action was necessary." Falsely reporting a crime is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine... "A factor in seeking charges, Walsh said, was that the man she said raped her had been subjected to public attention when his photo was shown in the media to help police solve an alleged rape"... A few thoughts: 1) It is interesting that the police spokesman said that it is unusual for his department to charge women who have made false rape reports. For one, he does not deny that false claims happen, or try to say they are rare. Also, he sounds almost apologetic about charging the woman. Here the woman did great harm to an innocent man, and at worst she may get a whopping 90 days in jail, yet the police seem almost embarrassed to be bringing charges. 2) In these types of cases usually everybody ignores another factor-- this man was publicly identified as a rapist on the loose, and could easily have been the target of vigilante action. 3) The police claim that they do not want to prosecute false accusers because it will make genuine rape victims hesitant to come forward. I've never seen much validity to this argument. I can't imagine that a woman who came forward with a credible rape accusation would ever be prosecuted for it. Perhaps one of the feminists who read this blog knows of such a case--if so, please feel free to bring it to my attention. It seems to me that by prosecuting false accusers we will not reduce the number of genuine victims reporting rape but instead reduce the number of false accusers. 4) I try hard to be fair to feminists and feminist organizations, but I find their silence over false rape accusations to be increasingly infuriating. "Silence" is actually a kind way of putting it, since they usually deny that false accusations are a problem. (To learn more about the prevalence of false accusations of rape, see my recent column U. of Maryland right to deny protesters a forum to publicly name alleged rapists, Baltimore Sun, 10/15/07). I wish that in reading these types of articles, which readers send to me continuously, that once, just once, I would read something like this: "Jane Doe, executive director of the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, expressed her displeasure with Ajao. Doe explains: "'What Ajao did is very harmful. It is terrible to falsely accuse a man of a serious crime like rape. It hurts him, and it also hurts all women who are victims of sexual assault, because it undermines the credibility of their claims. We want rapists in jail. We do not want innocent men victimized.'" Is that too much to ask? The full story, with a timeline of the case, can be seen here. Thanks to Justin, a reader, for sending me the article.