False accusations should receive harsh punishments
Taylier Tibbetts accused the father of her child of abusing the boy, and even went so far as to alter photos of her son to make him appear bruised. She also opened a GoFundMe account to raise money for herself and her son using the false claim. (Screenshot: Fox News)
If someone falsely accuses another person of a crime, like child abuse or sexual assault, then the false accuser needs to be punished harshly.
Too often, false accusers are given just slaps on the wrist — and receive nowhere near the punishment someone actually guilty of the accused crime would receive. This diminishes the harm that false accusations do to the people they are lodged against, who are often branded in the media as some of the worst criminals imaginable: "child abuser" or "rapist."
Case in point: Taylier Tibbetts accused the father of her child of abusing the boy, and even went so far as to alter photos of her son to make him appear bruised. After she made the false accusation to police, she opened a GoFundMe account to raise money for herself and her son using the false claim.
Tibbetts insisted she had told the truth as recently as May, but on Tuesday she pleaded guilty for filing a false police report. And what punishment did she receive for falsely accusing a man of beating his own child, attempting to raise funds off of her lie and maintaining the lie to the media? Not much.
Tibbetts received a suspended sentence of 30 days in jail and a $350 fine. Meanwhile the accusation of being a child abuser will hang over the head of the boy's father for years to come, as accusations travel farther and wider than vindication.
The accused man, who I will not name here because he is the victim, said the sentence was too light but that he wants to move on with his life.
"I'd like to have at least the 30 days in jail imposed, considering she lied about something so serious," he said.
He added: "She lied and did false things and got away with it, and I don't think that's right."
Part of the reason Tibbetts received such a light sentence was that she was young and did not previously have a criminal record — and now she will.
"She did accept fault here. She did accept guilt," the prosecutor in the case, Lisa Rick, said. "She pleaded guilty. She accepted what she did was wrong, and that's a huge factor, when someone is able to admit that what they did was wrong."
Seeing people commit a crime like this but get off so lightly sends the message that falsely accusing someone in order to hurt them and raise money just doesn't matter. We see it in sexual assault (both on campus and in criminal courts) as well. Everyone knows the false accusation printed in Rolling Stone from "Jackie." She lied not only to campus administrators and survivors' groups, but also to police. Yet she received no formal punishment.
She damaged the university's reputation, caused the vandalization and harassment of an innocent fraternity, and defamed an administrator dedicated to helping sexual assault accusers (this administrator is now suing the magazine, but not Jackie).
Crystal Mangum, the woman who falsely accused the Duke Lacrosse players, also received no punishment for her role in the hysteria caused by her lies. Countless other false accusations fly under the radar, relegated to a few forgotten news articles here and there.
There needs to be stiffer punishment for crimes of this nature, which severely damage the lives of those falsely accused.