Can the Hofstra Rape Case’s False Accusor be Convicted of a Crime?

September 18, 2009

According to an Associated Press report, an 18 year old freshman at Hofstra University came to police on Sunday (9/13/09) claiming that she had been tied up and gang-raped by five men in a men’s dormitory. After her statement to the police, they arrested four of the five young men. On Wednesday night, word that one of the young men had a cell phone video of their encounter with the young woman, showing that everything that occured between her and the five men had been consensual. This prompted her to recant her story and the police released the four men. The Nassau County District Attorney’s office is considering charges against the young woman, who’s name has not been released, for filing a false report with the police. 

Hofstra RapeCan this woman be prosecuted criminally for filing a false affidavit with the police? Would the young men have a valid civil case against her for false imprisonment?

According to New York Penal Law § 210.10,  one may be convicted of perjury in the second degree, a Class E Felony, if she:

  1. Swears falsely
  2. Does so in a document for which an oath or affirmation to tell the truth is required (like an affidavit)
  3. The person intends “to  mislead  a public servant (like a police officer)  in the performance of his official
      functions”
  4. The matter the person lied about is “material” to the proceeding/action about which she is lying.

If this woman’s false statement was not only made in an oral statement to police, but sworn to in an affidavit, then the public reports would seem to indicate that the other elements of felony perjury are there. If she is convicted of a Class E felony, the class of felonies with the shortest jail term, it is still possible for her to be sentenced for upwards of a year.

If the young men sue their accusor in a civil court for “false imprisonment,” they must be able to show that she had the intent to cause them to be confined, and that the young men had no “reasonable means of escape.” Parvi v. City of Kingston. Even if she only caused them indirectly (e.g. by using the police to do the imprisoning on her behalf) to become imprisoned, as opposed to physically imprisoning them herself, she can still be liable. 14 N.Y.Prac., New York Law of Torts § 1:24. And where one instigates the police to arrest someone may also be liable for the tort of false imprisonment. Celnick v. Freitag,  662 N.Y.S.2d 37 (1st Dept.1997).

In sum, if the public reports are based on admissible facts, then the Hofstra rape case accusor may not only be arrested and imprisoned for perjuring herself by falsely accusing these men of rape, they may also have a cause of action against her for monetary damages for causing them to be falsely imprisoned.

As always, if you need a criminal defense lawyer  in NY because you are charged with making a false statement to police, perjury, rape, or any other crime for that matter, you can always call our office, which has about thirty years of experience in criminal defense. On the other hand, if you need a personal injury attorney to sue someone for physically confining you if you need someone to defend you against such a claim, or you need to sue someone for any other type of injury, our office has significant experience in personal injury law as well. And you can contact our office at 800-344-6431 anytime 24/7.

Picture of three of the accused men, Kevin Tavares, second from left, Stalin Felipe, center, and Rondell Bedward, right, courtesy of Frank Eltman.

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3 Responses to “Can the Hofstra Rape Case’s False Accusor be Convicted of a Crime?”

  1. Chavez Says:

    The frightening thing is that every male stands only an accusation away from arrest and quite possibly conviction. If he cannot prove his own innocence (which is standing the presumption of innocence on its head), he may face decades in prison.

    Punishing false accusers may be the only way to deter this kind of risk. The law of Moses says to give a false accuser the same penalty the accused would have received, in order that “the rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you.” (Ex. 19.16ff)

    (If Crystal Mangum had been punished for her first false rape claim, perhaps she wouldn’t have made a second claim years later against the Duke team.)

    We like to think that witch hunts ended with Salem; but it seems they reappear in every generation, only with different victims (in this case, males).


  2. Chavez,

    I actually attend Hofstra Law School and one of the professors, who was a prosecutor in the DA’s office for years, spoke not only about the accusor, but also about the police. He couldn’t believe that the police arrested these four men without any kind of corroboration. He feels that they should have questioned her more or sought some corroborating evidence before jailing them. No system can be perfect but we should strive to get as close as possible.

  3. lo Says:

    Moses was right but chronic false accusers like Tig Notaro and Stef Willen rarely face criminal prosecution.

    Case 8CA10541 in the Los Angeles Suprerior court should be studied as a prime example of how the falsely accused is guilty until proven innocent -not the other way around. In that case it was a misdemeanor and so the systems role was to dispose of it in a way that wouldn’t get members of the system in trouble. When the defendant insisted on getting a trial the system turned on her like a rabid animal. See case ZM015125 and ZM15295. There is strong evidence to suggest that the strapped Los Angeles courts are using the mental health courts when … trying to … discourage a defendant from going to trial. Barbaric acts are being committed by charlatans like Dr. Francisco Velarde and Dr. Khaushal Sharma ,and the D.A in that court, and particular judges are complicit.


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