Fact check: McDaniel’s claim that women fake ’99 percent’ of sexual assault claims

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R.L. Nave, Mississippi Today

State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, talks to reporters in March 2018 about his bid for the U.S. Senate.

On Monday, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, grabbed headlines for the second time in a week while defending Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds hearings on Supreme Court nominees before they go to the full Senate for a confirmation vote, is scheduled to hear testimony from a woman named Christine Blasey Ford who says Kavanaugh and a friend assaulted her at a party when they were in high school. Kavanaugh denies the accusation.

The Washington Post reported:

Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

Conservatives, including Mississippi U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith, have questioned the timing of Ford’s revelation and accuse Democrats of attempting to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination to the court.

McDaniel, who is running for the U.S. Senate, went farther and suggested that only 1 percent of all sexual assault allegations have merit. Speaking on a radio show hosted by Tupelo-based American Family Radio, McDaniel said:

“I’m tired of all these made-up scandals, frankly,” McDaniel said, responding to a question Monday from host Bryan Fischer. “… They’re going to drag something up, at least even theoretically, allegedly, from all those years ago.”

“All of a sudden, that disqualifies this man? All of a sudden, he’s a terrible human being? No, not a chance. You know, I don’t fall for it anymore. And I hope the American people aren’t falling for it. These allegations, 99 percent of the time, are just absolutely fabricated.”

Mississippi Today researched the accuracy of McDaniel’s statement, that “99 percent” of assault allegations are “absolutely fabricated.”

Although an Internet search can turn up anecdotes of women recanting rape and sexual assault allegations, our reporters were unable to find a single study that backed up this claim but found several that proved the vast majority of rape accusations are true.

• 2017 – A study in the Journal of Forensic Psychology, using FBI data, determined that about 5.5 percent of all rape accusations between 2006 and 2010 were false.

• 2016 – A study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior concluded that 5.2 percent of rapes were “confirmed false,” though the study’s authors suggested that, because the study relied only on confirmed false reports, the actual percentage of false rapes was “likely greater than 5 percent.”

• 2014 – Using 2008 data provided by the Los Angeles Police Department and a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, researchers determined that 4.5 percent of rapes were false.

Studies also show that rapes are consistently under reported in comparison to other crimes. Only 31 percent of rape victims report the crimes while 62 percent of robbery victims and 63 percent of assault and battery victims report the crime.

Most women are sexually assaulted by someone they know. Eight in 10 victims of sexual assault report knowing their attacker.

McDaniel drew national attention last week during a Friday appearance on the MSNBC talk show “Morning Joe,” when he stated that black Mississippians were “begging for (government) scraps.”

That remark drew rebuke from African Americans, progressives and some conservatives, such as Gov. Phil Bryant, who tweeted that he condemns and rejects in the “strongest possible terms Chris McDaniel’s characterization of African-Americans as beggars. This does not reflect the beliefs of the Mississippi Republican Party or the average Mississippian.”

Bryant, who is actively campaigning to elect Hyde-Smith, whom he appointed to the Senate this spring and is a strong Trump supporter, has not commented publicly on the accusations against Kavanaugh.

An email to his communications director was not immediately returned this morning.

Hyde-Smith has not commented on the substance of the allegations, but raised questions about the motives of Senate Democrats:

“Having met with Judge Kavanaugh, I found him to be imminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, and remain confident of his confirmation.

“I have serious reservations regarding the questionable timing and handling of this last-minute allegation. The Democrats knew about this months ago and chose to wait until now to release it. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on the allegation. This process should go forward so both sides can be heard.”