In today’s political climate, one of the major movements that has influenced how people look at sexual assault is certainly the “Me Too” movement. Our office does not deny that sex abuse happens or the horrors of cases involving true allegations of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan. However, there are cases of false claims, and our office vigorously defends the accused.
For example, in November 2014, an article appeared in Rolling Stone magazine narrating a first hand account of a “gang rape” that happened at a fraternity house at the University of Virginia. Jackie, the alleged victim, gave a captivating account to the magazine of how her five rapists had their way with her at a party hosted by Phi Kappa Psi. The Rolling Stone ultimately retracted the story that narrated Jackie’s account because it was proved false by an investigation piece.
One problem with the story involving Jackie, and many other stories of victims, is that her allegations are based on a he-said-she-said scenario with no physical evidence available to assist the situation or back up someone’s story. With no consistent eyewitness evidence and no physical evidence, sexual assaults are very hard to prove in some cases. Sometimes the alleged victim’s story is inconsistent with previous statements that he or she has given to the police or some other source. These statements are sometimes so inconsistent that it makes the complainant look very unbelievable.
Numerous holes have been poked into Jackie’s story since the article debuted, making her story less and less believable. The party where the sexual assault happened never took place. Jackie also told police and reporters that her date to the party, who took place in the assault, was a member of the fraternity who worked with her as a lifeguard, but no member of the fraternity was working as a lifeguard when the incident took place. Jackie also changed the number of her assailants from five to seven.
There has also been speculation that Jackie was not vaginally penetrated, but orally penetrated. In Michigan criminal sexual conduct cases involving penetration, as used in the Michigan criminal sexual conduct statutes, MCL 750.520b and MCL 750.520d, can mean either oral, vaginal, or anal penetration. It is a common misconception when a person believes that he or she can be charged with a sexual assault or rape if it only happens vaginally or anally.
Sex offense allegations are very easy to fabricate, because the evidence at trial does not require more than the word of a complainant alone. A jury in Michigan is instructed in a criminal sexual conduct trial that if they believe the word of the alleged victim beyond a reasonable doubt, that is enough to convict without any other evidence. It is very easy for an alleged victim of criminal sexual conduct to manufacture a story for attention, or out of spite, and it does happen. We have had cases where the complainant has admitted to lying, admitted to exaggerating, and completely recanted their claims.
Fighting false allegations of criminal sexual conduct requires an experienced defense attorney who is familiar with the criminal sexual conduct laws in Michigan. Smith Blythe has worked on and tried numerous criminal sexual conduct cases. If you are facing a charge of criminal sexual conduct based on a false allegation, contact our office to set up an appointment.