False allegations of child sexual abuse (CSA) do happen. Nobody knows for sure how many are false, because there are serious problems in knowing who is factually innocent. The majority of people accused of this dreadful crime are not convicted. Between 2012-14, 17% of those accused were convicted, read more here. Cynics, and victims of child abuse may naturally think that those not convicted were guilty but ‘got away with it’. Victims of wrongful allegations of CSA may think that most of those found not guilty and many who were convicted are actually innocent. The actual proportion of those accused who are actually innocent probably lies somewhere between these two extremes.
Dr Ros Burnett of Oxford Criminology Department prefers to use the term ‘wrongful allegation’ instead of ‘false allegation’, because the latter description gives the impression that all such allegations are made maliciously. This is not the case, some wrongful allegations are due to the accuser misinterpreting an action that had innocent intent, some are due to memories that have become altered over the course of time and some are due to mistakes in identifying the perpetrator.
However, at FACT we have long believed that some wrongful allegations are made maliciously in order to gain compensation. We have heard that the prison newspaper ‘Inside Times’ has carried adverts for solicitors offering to help prisoners get compensation on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. Not all prisoners are known for their honesty, and the temptation of getting some easy ‘compo’ may seem irresistible. Not every one who gets compensation is in prison of course, the infamous ‘Nick’ whose allegations were said to be ‘credible and true’ by Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald of ‘Operation Midland’ is rumoured to have received £50,000. The police are now considering whether or not to prosecute him for fraud. Simon Warr is one of our members who is convinced that his accuser was motivated by greed.
Now there is a documented case of lying in order to get compensation. A football coach was charged with abusing eight former footballers between 1984 and 2007. He vigorously denied the allegations. Unusually, in court, two accusers admitted being recruited by another ‘victim’ in order to add ‘a couple of zeros’ to his compensation. The jury found the defendant, a retired fire fighter, not guilty after three hours deliberation.
We can only hope that these liars will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Their false testimony would have sent this man to prison for several years and destroyed his reputation for ever. If he lived long enough to be released from prison he would have been on a sex offender’s register for life.
The full report is in the Scottish Sun here.