December 16, 2014

FORMER PUBLIC DEFENDER: Lena Dunham and the damage done by false accusations.

As a public defender in Fairfax County, I once watched the sentencing of an attractive, young defendant who had falsely accused her middle-aged, married neighbor of rape.

The police believed her and investigated and arrested the alleged rapist. At the sentencing of the woman, the prosecutor described the indignity to which the neighbor had been subjected: an arrest in front of his neighbors, the harm to his reputation, the embarrassment to his family, the threat of serving up to 30 years in prison. He was innocent, and he suffered even though he was not convicted. False accusations are easily made yet devastating.

The Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney pursued the false police report with the same seriousness he had the original rape charge. The woman who made the false claim deserved prosecution and punishment. And the innocent deserve protection. They deserve to be protected by the police and by the media.

Thus, I have a suggestion for The Post: Stop minimizing the harm caused by Lena Dunham’s accusation.

#FALSERAPECULTURE. The author is a law professor now.

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