In the wake of the dropped charges against Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson, victim's advocates are worried the decision will stop actual victims from telling their stories.
The Anderson case is just one of a few high-profile cases, but their impacts have been wide reaching often leaving victims to hide in the shadows allowing their attacks to remain free.
Cleveland County district attorney Greg Mashburn said of the unsupported rape charge, "I think, in this case it was important to tell the whole story through the facts that were presented to us."
But victim's advocates say the revelation of false accusations could mean trouble for legitimate victims who already face humiliation and the fear of not being believed.
“Coming forward with claims of sexual assault is not beneficial for the victim," said Mackenzie Masilon of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault," only to seek closure."
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, somewhere between two and eight percent of sex crimes are false or unsupported, no different than the rates for false reports for most other kinds of violent crimes. But reports of untrue or unprovable sexual assault often extend to other true victims. Advocates say high profile cases, like Duke Lacrosse in 2006, allegations of rape at the University of Virginia, and now at OU, all poison the well for victims of sexual assault in a way not seen for victims of other crimes.
Masilon asked, “If you came to work today and said, ‘My house got robbed last night,’ then I would say, ‘Oh my gosh, what can I do,’ and set up a GoFundMe account for you. So, why is it not like that for when women come forward with claims of abuse?”
Advocates hope with hundreds of victims now telling their stories, cases like this one at OU won't prevent more from stepping forward. Right now, nearly two-thirds of sexual assaults go unreported.