Originally posted on October 27, 2013
Washington Monthly published an investigative piece by Stephanie Mencimer detailing the story of Jamie Leigh Jones. Jones made headlines in 2007 when she appeared 20/20 and recounted being gang-raped while working as a contractor in Iraq:
As she described the fateful evening, Jones’s tone matched her somber, conservative dark dress. “I probably didn’t even drink the entire thing,” she told ABC’s Brian Ross. “Just a few sips. And I don’t remember anything after that.” She said she woke up groggy, confused, naked, and sore. “I felt like I’d been hit by a truck,” Jones said. She stumbled to the bathroom, where she said she realized she was bruised and bleeding between her legs. “Then I knew I had been raped,” Jones said, her voice shaking. A doctor at an Army hospital, she said, examined her, administered a rape kit, and declared that she’d been gang-raped. “She confirmed that I was raped both vaginally and anally,” Jones told Ross.
That began a media blitz in which Jones discussed her experiences on numerous networks. Her efforts garnered the support of Senators Hilary Clinton, Ben Nelson, and Al Franken, the latter of whom pushed for and passed legislation protecting female contractors.
That seems a positive outcome to a horrific story, except the evidence suggests that Jones was not raped at all. As Mencimer reports:
The physical evidence effectively debunked much of Jones’s story. A urine test done in Iraq had found no sign of Rohypnol, the date-rape drug she alleged had been put in her drink. The swabs taken in Iraq showed no proof that she had been “penetrated anally” or by multiple assailants. The rape kit showed DNA from a single person: Charles Bortz, who had never denied having sex with Jones. Prosecutors didn’t ask for an indictment, and in December 2008, Jones was personally informed that the Justice Department was dropping the case.
Mencimer details the lack of evidence so effectively that even Amanda Marcotte was forced to admit that Jones may have lied about the gang-rape. Of course, Marcotte is less concerned with Jones’ false account and more concerned about her perceived implications of it:
There is no doubt that there are women who make up rape to get attention and sympathy, as I’ve written about here before. But the takeaway from Mencimer’s piece should not be that women lie about rape. It should be that this woman lied about rape.
Mencimer seems annoyed that Jones’ fake case led to real legislation protecting the rights of rape accusers, and that politicians who voted against that legislation were, in her words, “vilified.” But the law that resulted from the situation, which forces these cases out of corporate arbitration and into court, is still good legislation. After all, without the jury trial, we may have never known the truth of what happened to Jamie Leigh Jones. Score one for those who demanded that trial in the first place, even if it had a
Mencimer does not seem annoyed that Jones’ fake case led to protecting the rights of rape accusers. She appears annoyed that everyone bought Jones’ story even though the evidence that Jones’ lied was in faces.
As Mencimer notes in her piece, Jones’ story fit the feminist narrative perfectly. It was exactly the kind of story feminists like to hear about: a female rape survivor denied justice by the system and now taking things into her own hands. Feminists rallied around Jones from the start, and supported her more fiercely when she lost her lawsuit against her former employer.
Marcotte wants to dance around that, but she cannot. If the evidence is true, Jones thoroughly conned everyone into believing she was raped. Reporters who should have investigated Jones’ claims did not. Everyone took Jones at her word when the evidence did not support her claims.
Arguing that what followed led to “good legislation” misses the point: Jones easily convinced people of her alleged lie.
That is the problem. If she could do that for years under intense media scrutiny–to the point that many of her supporters still believe her story–what does that say about the typical case? How easily can other women trick the police into believing their stories?
When one looks at false accusation cases like Duke and Hofstra, one can see how quickly things can get out of control, particularly when feminists get involved. Mencimer quoted Matthew Hale, a seventeenth-century jurist, in her piece: “Rape is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, tho never so innocent.”
That is unfortunately true. This does not mean that every person who claims rape is believed. However, it does show that it is easy to make the accusation, and if it sounds believable enough or fits a political narrative, plenty of people will buy it.