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False accusers amid the ‘rape culture’


Without getting into the veracity of widely reported statistics regarding campus rape, or breaking down into a squabble about what percentage of the time women fudge their stories about unwanted sexual contact, can we agree this does not help?

Police arrested 20-year-old Lindsey Sweetin Thursday for filing a false police report about a sexual assault she originally said happened in the Harmon Parking garage on the University of Arkansas campus.

What began innocently enough on March 5 — Sweetin told her boyfriend she’d seen a man between 50 and 60-years-old who gave her the creeps near the garage — evolved over the next few days into the highly specific story of a full-fledged molestation she told police, including the details of how a gray-haired man had approached her (seeking jumper cables) and groped her (one hand up her blouse, the other inside the back, then front, of her pants), how he’d shoved her into her car, and how she’d escaped (pepper spray in the face).

However, after reviews of garage security video and interviews with potential witnesses came up empty, Sweetin was interviewed again by a campus detective, and she confessed she’d invented the entire encounter. Except for the part about having spotted a man who frightened her on the way to the garage, but that he did not follow her.

Sweetin told [the detective] she had texted her boyfriend about seeing a man that scared her, and that her boyfriend made a suggestion that something more might have happened, and then the boyfriend told Sweetin’s brother. Police say Sweetin said the story just got worse from there and she “continued to go along with it because she did not know what else to do.”

Is this where our feverish occupation with the campus “rape culture” is taking us? Is every college student now so indoctrinated about this dubious phenomena that some older fellow can’t even look crosswise in the vicinity of a young woman without her boyfriend, browbeaten into psychological submission, believing it had to be the fulfillment of the alleged cultural breakdown?

Or, as likely, should Lindsey Sweetin (a) grow a spinal column and (b) find a less paranoid boyfriend?

Either way, for having briefly rendered virtually every Fayetteville male between the age of AARP eligibility and early retirement a suspect in her dark fantasy, Sweetin was arrested for Filing a False Police Report, a Class D Felony.

Rape is real and horrible and might very well happen more often than victims have the courage to report. But spectacular fabrications — whether at the universities of Arkansas or Virgninia or Duke — require denouncing that is no less enthusiastic when they are revealed than when the accusations are first lodged.

Because we want to prosecute and shame bad actors so thoroughly that it will discourage other potential perpetrators. But that requires getting it right. As many times as we possibly can.

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