Is $8M enough for being accused of sexual assault?

In December, Kevin Lindsey, a public school teacher and principal for thirty years, was arrested and “charged with two counts of child abuse, two counts of second-degree sex offense and one count of third-degree sex offense.” His name, and the allegations that he had abused two students in the late 1970s, made headlines in his […]

In December, Kevin Lindsey, a public school teacher and principal for thirty years, was arrested and “charged with two counts of child abuse, two counts of second-degree sex offense and one count of third-degree sex offense.” His name, and the allegations that he had abused two students in the late 1970s, made headlines in his community. Three weeks later, the charges were dropped because of a lack of evidence about the girls’ “recovered memories” and everything went back to normal for Mr. Lindsey. Right?

Not quite. Though he has been reinstated as the principal of his school after briefly being reassigned to the district office, one can only imagine the long-term damage done to his reputation. Now he has filed suit against the women, asking for $8 million for “malicious prosecution, defamation and invasion of privacy.” (Sara Neufeld, “Principal files lawsuit against accusers,” Baltimore Sun, Feb. 2).

I am no fan of using litigation as a weapon, as evidenced by my guesting on this website. However, I feel strongly that there must be some tool of compensation for those that have been falsely accused of heinous acts, especially sexual abuse and assault. Accusations are published on the front page of newspapers and make the local news; retractions are issued deep inside the paper and often get no airplay. The Baltimore Sun states in the article above that it does not publish the names of alleged victims of sexual assault. Even in this case, when the charges have been dropped, it does not print the names. While I understand the public policy rationale behind this, the paper had no trouble printing Mr. Lindsey’s name.

Lawsuits for damages are one way to try and compensate people like Mr. Lindsey, but perhaps there are others. I am in favor of punishing those that make false accusations. If it is proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a person intentionally falsely accused someone of a crime (see here, for example), why not give them the same punishment as if they had committed the crime? Yes, this is severe, but I cannot imagine the stigma of being accused of assaulting a nine year-old girl. I do not know for sure that Mr. Lindsey is innocent, but he has not been proven guilty. The civil suit may give him some compensation but will never fully clear his name. Why not give him the chance to prove his innocence once and for all?

I have enabled comments in the hopes of starting a discourse. Please share your thoughts (in a civilized way, of course).


  • Never happen…wish it would.
    I’ve got seven years left registering as a sex offender because I told a drunken 17 year old girl I wouldn’t have sex with her. I couldn’t prove her a liar, she couldn’t prove anything at all, but proof matters little to a jury listening to a girl cry.
    I would love to have compensation for the time I spent in jail, but more than anything I want public admission that I’m not a criminal.
    I wish Mr Lindsey luck in that respect, but $8 million? Neither he nor I will likely make that in our lifetime, and there’s really not as much stigma associated with the charge as one might think. If pain was something you could cash in, the world would be full of rich men.
    Oh yeah, I fully agree with BLATANT liars getting the punishment as if they had committed the crime they’ve accused someone of…I just doubt it could be realistically applied.

  • Boy, it sure would be nice if it were possible to “strike back”, so to speak, at those that abuse the cry of rape (or…whatever). Sure, civil libertarians are going to cry, “BUT, it will put a damper on those who would ordinarily go forward and prosecute people for their actions!!”

    Well, sure. But look at the situation we have now – so fully loaded in favor of the accuser that we have numerous horror stories such as these. We need to swing the pendulum back to a more reasonable middle ground – if you make an accusation of such import about somebody, you’d better be able to withstand the backblast if you’re going to falsely accuse them. Since there is no “brake” on these types of activities, anybody can accuse anybody else of just about anything if they want to harass/annoy/get even with them, and usually get away with it with little or nonexistent proof. Sooner or later, just like a car with no brakes but plenty of throttle, you’re gonna crash. A “brake” of some kind would cut down on this foolishness – if you thought that you would be held responsible for your actions, maybe you wouldn’t do them! Lack of accountability = abuse.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, society is seeing the ruinous actions of those that don’t put on any checks and balances on these loony policies and laws and will finally insist on doing something about it, instead of letting liberals, judges, and legislators foisting their “progressive” ideas and laws upon society. Without some kind check or balance, things go bad in a short span of time, don’t they? Human nature will always find the path of least resistance, and NOT being held responsible for your actions will eventually lead to the kinds of abuses we see right now.

    Another point – doesn’t the Bible say something about bearing false witness against somebody (like, “your neighbor”…)?? Oh, that’s right, God is just so old-fashioned nowadays. Who needs him? We can work things out by ourselves…

    Sorry, people. Civilization is definitely becoming un-civilized.

  • The current situation (which is indeed quite problematic) is the reaction to the situation that existed in western society for the last few hundred years… that being that rape was just not really treated as that big a deal (unless the victim was someone important). A man could rape a woman, get caught, be convicted, and spend a year in jail… or even just be put on probation.

    That was bad, too. Hopefully, we’ll find a better way, where actual rapists are convicted and punished, actual victims are protected, falsely accused rapists (ie, not rapists) will be protected, and false accusers will be punished. We’re defintately not there yet.

    This problem mainly stems from and is a legal extension of Political Correctness – all men are pigs who deserve any punishment we can meat out… well, unless they’re gay, of course; then we need to support them while they seek to legalize sex with children. :rolleyes:

    As to punishing false accusers… I’m all for that!

  • The one who should be punished is the “therapist” who “recovered” these memories. For too long the most outrageous accusations have been treated as evidence in abuse cases. Balloon rides, underground tunnels, parades of clowns, infant sacrifice, all these have been seriously recounted in association with recovered memories of abuse. The therapists who have made a cottage industry as “experts” in trials alleging distant abuse should be made to suffer the full weight of the law (both criminal and civil) for assisting in this witch hunt. And for deoxy, women are by no means safe from false accusation, just look at the Little Rascals case, or the McMartin case.

  • Talk about false-accusation messes! I live in Colorado, where in the last year, we have had:

    (a) Kobe Bryant’s accuser dropped criminal charges after filing a civil lawsuit. (Let it be noted that in all stories by the AP, they have a note saying it is “not their policy to give out the name of a [sexual abuse] victim”. This is still going on, even though the criminal trial was dropped several weeks ago.).

    (b) The Air Force Academy “scandal”, several stories of which came out on “OPRAH” and in hearings–only to find out later in the Colorado Springs Gazette that a number of the OPRAH stories (and others not used on the show) were to cover up underage drinking, illegal fraternization with older cadets, and other violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
    [In effect, now a female cadet in a similar situation can charge sexual assault/rape and not face charges for HER conduct!–a form of “get out of jail free” card.].

    (c) The University of Colorado football team, which has faced a number of years-old charges–NONE of which has gone to trial due to lack of evidence. One woman claimed she was raped by at least two CU players–DNA tests cleared both men. A number of other assault/rape charges were NOT prosecuted by the Boulder County D.A.’s office due to lack of evidence–an interesting point in the civil lawsuit against CU, claiming a “climate of [hostility] against women”, still ongoing. And, there’s Katie Hnida–the former CU kicker–who, when this story blew up, claimed (from New Mexico) that SHE was assaulted by “several players”, but WON’T NAME NAMES or press charges. She made these charges nearly FOUR YEARS after leaving CU.
    (Let it be noted that her dad worked for the then-NBC affiliate in Denver as the medical reporter; she never went either to her dad’s colleagues or anyone else in the Denver media.) She has been claiming this happened for a number of years, and still is, despite refusing to name names. Several current and former CU teammates were thinking about suing her to try to force the names out, and did challenge her in a press conference to do so; but it makes one wonder if the story is true or if there is something else behind it, if she won’t name names.
    [Personally: I’d sue for defamation of character to force her to name names; if she doesn’t, then people should wonder what her problem(s) were really. Either way, someone needs to force her to “come clean”. Legally, I wonder if that can happen and what consequences can happen, though.]

    And that’s only three examples. It does seem too easy for a woman these days to hide behind the “mama’s skirts” of the rape/sexual assault laws by charging the man (who’s name is publicized) and being left anonymous (by not having her name publicized); by having his sexual history used as evidence while the defense can’t use hers; etc.

    Now, I am NOT saying that rape and sexual assault does NOT happen–it does happen. I am saying that the pendulum has swung too far the other way when it comes to prosecuting and press coverage of these crimes (and others like abuse cases), from almost no coverage and light sentences to heavy coverage and sentences.

  • Although not politically correct, the Bible’s solution seems to make perfect sense: namely that an individual who bears false witness suffers the same punishment that their accusation would have inflicted on someone else. Perfect symmetry in justice.

  • Being unable to prove an accusation beyond reasonable doubt doesn’t mean the accusation is false. In many of these cases, there is no reason to expect to find evidence other than “he said, she said” – unless someone’s got a history of unsupported accusations or a story that includes obviously unreal elements, you aren’t going to get a criminal conviction either way, and it’s going to be difficult to even get the preponderance of evidence needed to decide a civil suit either way.

    On the other hand, these “recovered memory” cases are often especially bogus. You’ve got a mentally unstable accuser who allegedly forgot all about the most traumatic event in his or her life until a therapist started asking leading questions (at the least). Time has eliminated nearly all possibility of finding supporting or exculpatory evidence, so what’s left is a person who’s highly susceptible to suggestion, and a “therapist” who provided that suggestion – and who no doubt will tell you that what’s objectively true doesn’t matter, it’s what the patient thinks is true. The patient may well have been abused, but what, when, and who are all pretty dubious.

    Suing the accuser for $8M sounds a lot like piling onto a poor crazy person. Sue the therapist. Sue prosecutors or any other person with full mental capacity that publicized such ill-founded accusations.

  • I believe much of the problem lies with the media coverage on such cases, I think we would be better served if all such cases were held behind closed doors, and a court order of silence was placed on the participants. Please keep in mind I am not involved in the practice of law, so I might be a bit simple in my thinking, but I think this would serve to reduce damage to the accused in case of a false accusation, and still not deter rightful claims.
    I do think that therapist sometimes cause more damage than good, but it is the way of all professional fields. Perhaps they should be open to some form of malpractice suits if feasible, as there might be some difficulties in obtaining the patient records, something based on ratio of patient to false suits?
    Something does need to be done to offset damages done to those falsely accused, but like all reforms there will be growing pains, and mistakes.
    In short nothing human is perfect, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.