Due Process

Cathy Young at Time: Accusation Isn't the Same as a Guilty Verdict

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Woody Allen
Colin Swan

Over at Time, Reason contributing editor Cathy Young points out that the resurgent allegations of sexual abuse leveled against Woody Allen by his 28-year-old adopted daughter are disturbing, but they don't constitute proof that he committed the crimes. False allegations do exist, and the fact that the original charges aganst Allen were leveled during the nasty dissolution of a relationship should at least raise a few concerns.

What about the fact that the charges were originally made during a bitter breakup and custody dispute between Allen and Dylan's mother, Mia Farrow? If you think this is relevant, the feminists say, you are embracing the misogynist myth of vengeful women using sexual abuse allegations as a weapon. In fact, asserts Zoe Zolbrod in Salon.com, "research shows that it is not more common for accusations made during custody battles to be proved false than it is for any other sex abuse accusation," with only 1% to 6% of abuse charges found to be maliciously fabricated; what's more, writes Zolbrod, custody-related false accusations usually come from fathers, not mothers.

But these claims are contradicted by a major Canadian study that tracked more than 11,000 reports of child abuse and neglect in Canada in 2003. While reports of sexual abuse made during custody or visitation conflicts are fairly rare — the study identified 69 such cases — they are also quite likely to prove unfounded.

Allegations of sexual abuse, like any claims of wrongdoing, writes Young, require evidence and due process.

Read the full article here.