I found it ironic that Argus-Courier reporter Janelle Wetzstein wrote an article, published May 10, praising high school journalism students for making a public information request "to get to the bottom" of a current event, as she evidently does not practice what she preaches. In her March 22 "Sexual assaults reports on the rise in Petaluma" article, she proclaimed that reported rapes in Petaluma more than doubled from 12 in 2011 to 25 in 2012.
As far as advocates, she only interviewed women advocates, both of whom patted themselves on the back by claiming that the increase was due to a "heightened awareness" of rape. The reporter and advocates, along with a female sergeant from the police department, implied that all the reported rapes occurred.
Had Wetzstein followed the "canons of journalism," including accuracy, objectivity and fairness, she would have also interviewed advocates for men, as we would have informed her that not only are false accusations of rape common, but, while rape is a despicable crime, so is falsely accusing someone of such.
Then she would have made public information requests to the police department and DA's office. I did so, and they revealed that of those 37 reported rapes, only three resulted in arrests. And of those, no criminal charges were filed.
While a portion of the allegations deemed not prosecutable may have been due to uncooperative victims, the odds are that a considerable amount of them didn't happen. And while some may question whether our police department has a bias against women, one could argue the opposite, given that they didn't arrest any female accusers who may have deceitfully reported they were raped, even though doing so is a crime.
The justification for this unwritten no-arrest policy is because of political pressure from women advocates, and because law enforcement agencies don't want to discourage legitimate victims of sexual assault from coming forward to authorities.
As far as the DA's Office and the question of bias against women, it's run by a woman and their Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Unit webpage fails to acknowledge that men are victims, (unless they're senior citizens), as it states, "This unit...works closely with law enforcement agencies on violent crimes against women, children and seniors."
Moreover, the Sonoma County law enforcement agencies' arrest rates and the DA's office conviction rate for rape are universally low. For example, in 2011, there were 175 reported rapes in Sonoma County. Of those, only 41 were sent to the DA's office and only 16 of those resulted in convictions, according to statistics published by the Women's Justice Center.
Why? The reasons are many but false allegations play a significant role, as empirical evidence doesn't support the widespread assumption that women are unlikely to make false accusations of male sexual misconduct.
Revenge for ending a relationship and covering up cheating are the most common justifications cited by women who made false rape reports, according to the Institute for Psychological Therapies, a private practice of clinical psychology. Other motivations include outside influence from therapists and others, habitual lying, advantages in child custody disputes and financial gain.
But the main reason may be because many of these women knew nothing would happen to them if they got caught, as it's exceedingly rare for women who intentionally falsely accuse men of rape to be charged with a crime.