As noted over in the Random Musings thread, a vague statement that there was a single accusation against Garrison Keillor was justification for Minnesota Public Radio to get rid of everything connected to him. There’s more details now, but some of it’s still contradictory and vague.
The problem of how people are treated is getting a lot of the attention it has sorely needed for a long time, and false accusations hurt that progress. Related to that are the accusations that are true but are not believed. A book released last week is A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America, about a teenager named Marie who reported a man broke into her apartment and raped her at knifepoint.
The interview with one of the authors, Ken Armstrong, on National Public Radio said that the police and her friends started having doubts about the story, so the police pressured her into recanting her story, then filed charges against her.
Part of where the doubt came from is that she didn’t act like a rape victim is “supposed to” act. She was emotionally detached instead of being hysterical. So as the NRP interview said, the police changed from interviewing a victim to interrogating a suspect. She couldn’t handle the pressure, so she gave in.
Not long after, police in Colorado began tracking a serial rapist. They started sharing information when one detective noticed similarities with an assault in a nearby town a few months before. That eventually led back to the attack on this woman in the Seattle area three years prior, and the police in that town learned they made a big mistake in how they handled the investigation.
Armstrong talked about a former sergeant for the San Diego Police Department that supervised the Sex Crimes Unit. That sergeant said “skepticism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When police challenge rape victims, accuse them of lying, victims often shut down and sometimes even recant, as in Marie’s case. That then reinforces the belief that many rape claims are false, which leads police to challenge the next victim. It can become a cycle.”