Los Angeles Collegian Online

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

By Holliann Hartman
By Holliann Hartman

False accusations of sexual assault are life-ruining for both the accused and real victims.

(LACC) — In the court of law, we are all innocent until proven guilty. The catch-22 for real sexual assault victims who attempt to seek justice is that in the eyes of the law the accused is innocent until proven guilty, meaning that victims are guilty (of lying) until they can prove they were raped (innocent of lying). Simply put, a victim is lying unless they can prove what happened, happened. This is one of the many reasons victims think they will not be believed and don’t bother pursuing their cases, leaving their perpetrators to find other victims. 

Although the well-intended #MeToo movement has brought sexual assault awareness to a higher level, it has caused more damage, for both survivors and the falsely accused, than one may think. 

Throughout history, women were labeled liars and whores, and blamed for the violence against them. Only in recent years, survivors have gotten loud about this silent disease, and rightfully so. 

Any woman or man who has been genuinely assaulted deserves justice. So, I question why the people lie about it not being incarcerated or charged with falsifying police reports and obstruction of justice? These are already laws in place that, if enforced, could help the attention seekers or one-night stands dissipate and allow women who come forward to be believed immediately. 

Unfortunately, in the chaotic wake of #MeToo, many men have now become victims themselves and their lives will never be the same. I have been a first-hand witness to innocent men getting blamed for a sexual assault that never happened. The goal for a lot of these women is monetary gain. I have seen successful men move away from their homes, neglect their careers, and even pay women off who are absolutely lying. 

I asked one man who was shelling out thousands of dollars to women who were accusing him of sexual assault. He told me that if he did not pay, he would never work again. He explained that once it was printed, it wouldn’t matter what the court would say, he would forever be labeled. The #MeToo movement aftermath has created an environment where the media is the jury.

The awareness I gained within that conversation as a survivor infuriated me. Not only are these false-accusers abusing the system, but they also aren’t even using the legal system, they are using the media. They are using real survivors who have been beaten, gang-raped, stalked, or preyed upon to fatten their own wallets, achieve fame and attention; or they simply got played and are angry about it. And these women have unknowingly silenced real victims of sexual assault.

Sexual assault does occur every 92 seconds, so it is a common occurrence in this world, and it is a problem that needs awareness. At the same time, using a sexual experience you may regret or see opportunities to exploit, you are holding back the progression of real assault victims. 

The movement that was intended for awareness and good has become another way for women to seek revenge on men, and survivors are once again being eye-rolled at by police. I fully support a legal system that would create equality involving perpetrators of sex crimes. If you did it, you go to jail; if you lied about it being done, you go to jail. The law needs to punish women who file false police reports of sexual assault. That would be the beginning of the end of doubting survivors, something that is already challenging when in the court of law, a victim is seen as guilty until proven innocent. 

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