False reports raise questions about real victims

Saphara Harrell

Jan. 13, there was a panel held to discuss the problem of false crime reporting that has been affecting our campus.

Lieutenant Mike Gwynes of UPD. Photo by Saphara Harrell
Lieutenant Mike Gwynes of UPD. Photo by Saphara Harrell

In the past few years UNF has seen a large number of falsely reported crimes.

Lieutenant Mike Gwynes of UPD said, “Other Universities in the state of Florida haven’t had the same extent of false reports that we’ve had.”

The Clery Act has brought this to the attention of the students, because it requires all institutions of higher education to release campus crime statistics and security policies to their current and prospective students or employees.

Professor Jenny Stuber. Photo by Saphara Harrell.
Professor Jenny Stuber. Photo by Saphara Harrell.

Last year there were two cases of sexual assault on campus, and one of the accusations was recanted.*

Dr. Jenny Stuber, a sociology teacher at UNF who led the panel, asked why they think students would lie about a report. Lieutenant Gwynes says it’s often a result of covering up for something.

 

“Most students lied because of what their parents would think,” Gwynes said.

Sheila Spivey, director of the Women's Center. Photo by Saphara Harrell
Sheila Spivey, director of the Women’s Center. Photo by Saphara Harrell

Sheila Spivey, director of the Women’s Center, said those who are actually victims may be reluctant to come forward for fear of not being believed.

Because of the false reports, Spivey believes  more people will be skeptical of the claims that people make.

UNF Criminology professor Jennifer Wesely said, “When I talk about this issue of false accusations in class, there’s a lot of anger that I hear from students ‘what’s going to happen to the person who falsely reported, what are the consequences for that?’, but I don’t hear enough anger about the number of sexual assaults that are going unreported.”

Professor Jennifer Wesely. Photo by Saphara Harrell
Professor Jennifer Wesely. Photo by Saphara Harrell

Wesely says that “according to the national crime victimization survey, in the last five years 60 percent of sexual assault went unreported to authorities”

“When we talk about the numbers, nationally speaking, despite what we’ve seen on campus in the last few years, false reports of sexual assault are very very small in comparison to the actual numbers of this crime” said Wesely.

She said,  “The most reliable statistic says that only about 3 percent of reports are false.”

Because of the false reports, Spivey believes more people will be skeptical of the claims that people make.

Students who falsely report crimes face misdemeanor charges for filing a false police report. This is a crime that you can be arrested for. If they don’t come forward and admit it was false before UPD can prove it was, they are sent to the state attorneys office.

Even if they are not charged criminally, everyone who falsely reports a crime is sent to student conduct to face campus charges.

Email Saphara Harrell at [email protected]

* 1/27/2014 – A correction was made to more accurately reflect which part of the case was recanted.