Richard L. Lougee
The Connection Between the Cell Phone and False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse
It is routine for me as an attorney representing people charged with child sex crimes to ask clients who claim to be falsely accused of sexual assault or sexual abuse by a teenager: Did you take her cell phone? A surprising percentage of these people say “Yes.” And often these people say the teenager’s allegations were made almost immediately following the confiscation of the phone.
So is there a website designed to teach teenage girls how to game the system to recover their phones? Probably not. They don’t need one. We know enough about modern teenagers to conclude the following:
- To a 14-year-old girl her phone is an essential organ;
- She will be single-minded in her effort to recover the confiscated phone as soon as possible;
- Many teenagers have learned an allegation of sexual abuse against a custodial adult will immediately change the dynamics of her situation: from a teenager being disciplined for misusing Snapchat she instantly becomes a “victim” of a crime– and virtually always gets her phone back.
It is not that we have created a generation of evil and malicious children; rather many children have no more regard for the truth and facts than do the adults around them. Lying to achieve an immediate end is rampant in our politics and culture and we should not expect our youth to adhere to a higher standard. Few have any real sense of the consequences of falsely accusing someone of sexually abusing them. Their goal is to get their phone back as quickly as possible and even incredible and implausible claims of sexual abuse almost always achieve the desired result.
What is particularly troubling about the epidemic of false allegations stemming from the confiscated cell phone is that the problem is completely ignored by those investigating child sexual abuse allegations. Unwilling to admit that teenagers will lie about something as “important” as sexual abuse, and wedded to a process built around a 40 year old myth that they don’t, law enforcement seems comfortable subjecting a “few” completely innocent men to the prospect of life in prison. To do otherwise would require a close look at statistics demonstrating a striking correlation between the confiscated phone and the allegation of sexual abuse.
So if you are a father or stepfather be aware of the risks of taking the cell phone. You may have to do it to discipline your rebellious teenager but be prepared for the possibility you will be falsely accused. If this happens, you are perilously close to criminal charges being filed against you. You should say to the teenager something like “What the hell are you talking about?” and nothing further. This is the best way to begin your legal defense. Then you should immediately contact an attorney skilled in criminal cases involving allegations of child sexual conduct, child molestation and/or child sexual assault. Remember, the police will believe the child, and the mother will be coerced by the state to follow suit. Nothing you say to those doing the “investigating” will make them question the truthfulness of the child accuser. You need a defense team to do the investigating the police will not do and to demonstrate to the prosecutor and, if necessary, a jury that this is just another “cell phone case.”