The XX Factor

Why Gore’s Masseusse Didn’t Go Straight to the Police

Hanna, you’re right : In her police statement, the voice of the masseuse accusing Gore of attempted sexual assault is very real-halting and scared and angry and full of detail, all at the same time. You mention that commentators have cast doubt on her account because she didn’t go to the cops right away. This is a canard. In the debate about how often women make false accusations of rape, there’s a notorious study in Scotland by police surgeon N.M. MacLean of only 34 rape complaints made from 1969-74. It’s notorious because MacLean found that the rate of false reports was a whopping (and very much debunked) 90 percent. Why? Because MacLean labeled complaints as false if they were made after a delay, as well as if the victim didn’t look “disheveled” or upset or seriously injured. But none of these factors necessarily indicate that a rape charge is trumped up. Check out this model paper from the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force. Women have plenty of reasons to fear or avoid reporting a claim of sexual assault, or attempted sexual assault, like this one. The masseuse accusing Gore has a perfectly plausible explanation:

I did not immediately call the police as I deeply fear being made into a public spectdacle and my work reputation being destroyed. I was not sure what to tell them and was concerned my story would not be believed since there was no DNA evidence from a compelted act fo rape. I did not even know what to call what happened to me. I did not know if the police would even want to take a report on this.