In the U.K., Sophie Hooper, 19, who falsely accused a man of rape, has recently renounced her charges in a letter to police. In the letter, she described how she had lied about the allegations.
The law protected Hooper, however, giving her anonymity while her alleged attacker was free to be exposed. The Daily Mail adds:
Victims and alleged victims of rape have been granted anonymity since 1976 to spare women from humiliation and encourage more victims to report attacks.
The law originally gave the same protection to those charged with rape.
But anonymity for defendants was withdrawn in 1988 after judges protested that it prevented police from appealing for witnesses.
Judges also said that the acquittal of a man charged with rape was enough to clear his name and reputation.
The false charge left the charged man in a position where he felt he couldn’t even go outside for fear of being “tarred.” Following the allegations, Hooper, who felt a great deal of remorse over falsely charging the man, finally decided to disclose to police that “maybe calling it rape was wrong.”
In court Hooper apologised by saying ‘I shouldn’t have lied, I am sorry’ and added that if she could turn the clock back she would.
The court was told how the man described in a victim impact statement feeling ‘sick to the stomach’ and anxious following the accusation.
He was also unable to go out because, even though he knew he was innocent, he felt he would be tarred.
He said he could not sleep properly and resorted to taking anti-depressants.
Mitigating for Hooper, Fern Russell said it was not a sophisticated plot – she was in a state and made a bad decision out of stupidity rather than malice.
Recorder Stuart Jones QC handed the teenager an eight-month prison term suspended for two years.
He told her she was lucky not to have gone to jail for what the court deems a very serious offence.
In the U.S., any level of punishment for false charges is unheard of, let alone the threat of jail.
However, as punishment for her allegations, the teenager was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.