The national rate of rape claims classified as “unfounded” is less than 10%. Let’s be clear, “unfounded” is not the same as “false.” “Unfounded,” in law enforcement speak, includes both “baseless” claims, in which the account given was considered truthful, but in which the elements necessary to meet the legal definition of rape were absent (Laws vary from state to state. For example, marital rape is still not classified as “rape” in some states), and claims the officers involved felt were untrue. In my experience, police officers are just as likely to hold stereotypes about which rape reports are “real” as the general public. According to the Sexual Assault Training and Investigations training developed by nationally recognized law enforcement expert and former head of the San Diego Sex Crimes Unit Joanne Archambault, many untrained officers will disbelieve a victim because the victim knows the suspect, had a prior sexual relationship with the suspect, is acting “too” calm, is vague, later remembers more about what happened, is a prostitute, is drunk or on drugs, is belligerent, and for a whole range of other reasons that simply do not indicate that a report is false. Some poorly trained departments may also improperly call cases “unfounded” when they have issues such as a victim’s refusal to cooperate, inability to find a victim, or simply insufficient evidence… Add to this the pressure on officers to report very low rates of certain violent crimes in their precincts, and you find a bias toward labeling rape cases “unfounded,” even though there is no evidence that the rate of false reports of rape is any different from the rate of false reports for any other crime (around 2-8%). In other words, the rate of false reports of rape is the same as the rate of false reports of muggings, car accidents, and home invasions. Two to eight percent. Two to eight percent is important. Two to eight percent is the reason we have a justice system and a trial. It’s why we really, really need due process in all criminal cases. But it is not a majority, or even a large percentage, of rape cases. It certainly is not a reason to assume that many or most people alleging that a rape occurred are lying.