Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

False Allegations: Investigative and Forensic Issues in Fraudulent Reports of Crime

Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

False Allegations: Investigative and Forensic Issues in Fraudulent Reports of Crime

Article excerpt

False Allegations: Investigative and Forensic Issues in Fraudulent Reports of Crime

Brent E. Turvey, John O. Savino, and Aurelio Coronado Mares, editors Academic Press, 2018

The timing of the publication of the current book, False Allegations, is uncanny. In 2017, numerous females (and a few males) in America's entertainment industry have leveled charges of sexual assault against male colleagues and industry executives. While normally the domain of supermarket check-out line tabloids, the accusations managed to situate itself within mainstream discussion and spark an online social movement. A result of all this was that activists (mostly women), who "spoke out against sexual harassment and abuse," the "silence breakers," a lot of publicity, such as a feature on the cover of Time magazine as "Person of the Year 2017".1 However, the lurid claims of the accused have yet to be tested in a court of law. It is an open question as to whether any of the accusation will make it to a courtroom. Most, but not all, of the allegations occurred long ago and the statutes of limitation for sexual assault have expired.2 In addition, in some cases it appears that the accused managed to buy their alleged victims' silence with cash tied to a legally binding nondisclosure agreement. So why now, in the post-Obama age, are feminists denouncing America's "rape culture" in droves when similar claims were made in the past against powerful Hollywood executives? It appears that simply obtaining justice is not the objective, so then what is it?

Today, one is constantly admonished not to hurt anyone's "feelings". Allegations of harm, no matter how dubious, are taken seriously and the accused are guilty until proven otherwise, an inversion of the western concept of justice. The target of the allegations in 2017, Harvey Weinstein, co-owner of the motion picture company, The Weinstein Company, was fired from the company and then resigned from the board. A few months later, the company, once hailed as the purveyor of "cutting edge" films, was unable to find a buyer-the company had amassed between $500 million to $1 billion in debt-and filed for bankruptcy.3 While the demise of the Weinstein Company cannot be directly attributed to activist activity, they would like to think so. As to the serious criminal allegations, at the start of 2018, Weinstein has yet to be charged and brought before a criminal court. However, in the court of public opinion, he has already been convicted. Weinstein has disappeared from public view and it is unlikely that he will ever command the level of influence in Hollywood that he did in the past. Perhaps this may have been the ultimate goal of Weinstein's accusers-online "shaming" and financial ruin. Should the activists' notion of "justice" take hold, the presumption of guilt and public slandering, like that against "enemies of the people" in Mao's China, the quaint, western notion of "due process of the law" is all but dead.

This episode also underscores a conventional wisdom: since sexual assault victims never lie, they must absolutely be believed. (The conventional wisdom also holds for victims of alleged "hate crimes," the incidence of which has supposedly skyrocketed since the election of Donald Trump as President.4) The current book, False Allegations breaks with conventional wisdom, plainly stating that false allegations "occur with predictable reliability." Nonetheless, few, if any, have dared to point to the possibility that perhaps some of the allegations of the "silence breakers" may not even be true. Perhaps prudent individuals are waiting for the evidence-or the conventional wisdom has stifled them.

The observation that false allegations "occur with predictable reliability" is based on findings from the editors' considerable experiences.5 The editors' biographies show lengthy experience in criminology in various academic settings and working with numerous "government agencies" around the world. …

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