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Causes and motives

Any allegation may be true or false, or partly true and partly false. Each case rests on its own facts, but barring forensic evidence, it may be that some of the worst examples, over the longest period of time are less likely to be true than minor assaults.


Sexual offences usually take place in private, but they are physical acts in space and time. In domestic cases where it may be alleged that offences took place against a child over a number of years without anyone knowing the question is how likely this is without suspicion or discovery?

Consider an analogous scenario. A husband or wife conducts an adulterous affair with someone living in the same house. Both parties are determined to keep it a secret. But suspicions arise. There is a noticeable tension between the two. Bedclothes reveal a telltale body smell, hairs or semen. Sooner rather than later the affair would be rumbled.

A child or adolescent who has been coerced would not have the same deliberation in keeping ‘the secret’ as an adult adulterer and soon suspicious signs would become apparent in behaviour and household routine. Child sexual abuse is a shocking and serious concern, more so than adultery, so the possibility of a total cover-up for years is unlikely.

There are all sorts of reasons for false allegations, some are just lies, though they may have gestated over a number of years and emerged piecemeal.Allegations are difficult to retract once made, though the accused may have no knowledge of the allegation until arrested.

Sometimes it’s not possible to discern a reason and motive for lying. It may simply have become adopted as someone’s identity from small beginnings as an attention-seeking gesture. At trial it is for the prosecution to prove guilt not the defence to prove innocence. But often it can seem as if the burden of proof is reversed with the complainant being believed unless there is a demonstrable counter explanation. Making sense of the landscape of allegations may therefore be a key task for the defence.