Actor Bill Cosby, former politician Leon Brittan, campaigner Julian Assange, DJ Neil Fox – the common thread linking these high profile names is that they have all been accused of sexual abuse this year. But while these allegations have hit the headlines, many other people have also had the finger pointed at them.
All allegations of abuse need to be taken seriously, however, it is not always the case that abuse took place. The recent acquittal of Neil Fox from accusations of historic sexual abuse and Cosby’s decision to countersue his accusers have sparked much debate about false allegations – in particular, how to identify them and how to deal with them.
There are many circumstances in which somebody can find themselves falsely accused of a sexual offence and, regardless of the truth of the matter, the implications are generally disastrous. Reputations can be ruined, jobs can be lost, debts can mount and ultimately a prison sentence can await the falsely accused person if the legal system believes the complainant’s version of events.
In the, hopefully unlikely, event of finding yourself facing such an allegation, there are three crucial things you must do:
- First, you need to realise that you are being accused of serious criminal offence. This makes it imperative that you secure the services of a qualified lawyer who has significant experience, and preferably a high success rate, in defending false accusations of sexual abuse. They will be able to assess your case and determine how best to defend you.
- Secondly, you need to know your rights. The best tactic when allegations such as these surface is to keep your evidence and your statements between you and your lawyer and let your lawyer do the talking. If you are not being arrested, and unless you are being temporarily detained, you are free to leave. If you are being arrested, you still do not have to say anything other than to confirm your name, address and date of birth.
- And thirdly, you should set about documenting your case. Before your memory starts to fade, write down every detail you can recall about the circumstances under which the allegations have been brought. Make notes of anything and everything that may be relevant or helpful to your defence, especially the names of any potential witnesses.
Sadly there are now considerable incentives for people to make false allegations of abuse, even allegations of abuse which allegedly took place many years ago. Equally, the legal system allows the prosecution of such cases without corroborating evidence, meaning that cases may simply be one person’s word against the other’s. This makes it imperative that you seek expert legal advice as soon as an allegation is made.
Edward Hayes is the leading UK law firm when it comes to successfully defeating false allegations in criminal, family and civil proceedings and our experienced lawyers will treat your case with the seriousness it deserves, advising you every step of the way to achieve the best outcome possible. Contact our team in the South East on 0800 085 9684 or for the rest of the UK on 0845 602 3043.