The impact of being wrongly accused of abuse in occupations of trust: victims’ voices

Our thanks to David for pointing us to a 66-page report by three (female) academics at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. The end of the report:

The authors of this study hope that it will provide a valuable corrective to the uncritical discourse that has dominated media, political and policy-making discourse over the past 20 years – the discourse which states that victims will, almost invariably, be telling the truth. It is worth here repeating the Metropolitan Police statement on Operation Midland, ‘our starting point with allegations of child sexual abuse is to believe the victim until we identify reasonable cause to believe otherwise.’ It will be recalled that this statement was made after it had emerged that the main source of the allegations was probably a fantasist.

No doubt the intentions behind that statement were honourable: a desire to right an historic wrong, and to give victims who had been previously ignored a voice. But this study suggests that in the process, a whole new and growing class of victims is being created, whose suffering is just as intense – all the more so for having been, until now, passed unnoticed. The road to hell, it is said, is paved with good intentions. Unfortunately, that is where the victims of false allegations of abuse are likely to find themselves – in a living hell.

5 thoughts on “The impact of being wrongly accused of abuse in occupations of trust: victims’ voices

  1. Claims and convictions against men for sexual offences are at their highest level in memory at a time when the crimes themselves are at their lowest level in known history. This is what happens when crime falls: the established legal system has to manufacture crime to maintain revenue streams. Legislation is broadened, judicial policies amended and fake victims are paid to lie. Throw anonymity for the perjuring claimants into the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.

    This is interesting. For in the real world it isn’t uncommon for a spouse (usually the wife) to be abusive to her failing husband( who is often older and frailer as a result). The reason is perfectly obvious; that he is no longer able to fulfil his role. A similar case was the abuse endured by Eddie Kidd disabled by his stunt cycling. I’m actually sympathetic to the pressures of caring. th point s it has nothing to do with patriarchy and no one is helped by “feminist analysis”.

  3. I think the words of the 1980 “Police” record “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” admirably sum up the attitude that should be taken to complaints made by teenage girls.
    “Young teacher, the subject of schoolgirl fantasy…”
    Far from being automatically believed, they should always have to be corroborated. The girl threw herself at Adam Johnson because she wanted to be a WAG and it’s just unfortunate for him he didn’t go straight to Sunderland FC and ask them to deal with her; they would have obtained and injunction if necessary.
    More modestly, a similar little madam caused untold grief to a very nice family in this village. If anyone was culpable, it was her parents.
    In most cases we are not talking about serious abuse of a young child but about a teenager, almost always female, who is a) bored with her contemporaries, b) attracted to fame, or both and they know what they are doing. It is the men who are the victims and I can see an argument for extending the civil concept of Gillick competent ( to consent to medical treatment, or to decide where to live) to cases of this type, ie look at the individual complainants.
    And in the words of the song, tell them, rudely if necessary, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”. No wonder more and more people won’t interact with children.
    PS Disney instruct staff not to assist an unaccompanied child but to keep them in sight and call for security. Who work in pairs.

  4. ” a quarter of the Greater Manchester Police major incident detective team was working on cases of alleged historic abuse – a remarkable and indicative statistic (Scheerhout, 2014)” This quoted in the report is very telling. This means that only 75 % of the resource was available for current crime. At a time of pressure on police budgets isn’t odd that they have time available to delve way into the past( two local cases at the time were in the 1970s). One way of looking at this is that at a lime when almost all forms of crime is falling then spare capacity has to be used for something or cutting the Police budget appears perfectly logical. I do seriously suspect the furore following Jimmy Saville has played into many interests’ hands. Perhaps those “political” interests are why there are increasingly collapsing cases, abandoned investigations and disquiet at prosecutions of very elderly men, because a moral panic has been fuelled by agencies anxious to be seen to be busy. Just think of the man hours spent on the “case” based on a known fantasist’s imaginings about tory politicians 40 years ago . Either detectives are remarkably stupid or they see reason to be busy. And of course such investigations have another virtue of posing no current threat to anyone not least the investigators, unlike looking into current drug gangs or following up gun crime between gangs (both big issues now in Gt Manchester).

  5. A positive start would be anonymity for defendants as is currently afforded complainants. The identification of the defendant should only be disclosed if convicted..

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