False Reports of Sexual Assault: Moving Beyond the Issues

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June 26, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am

Course Description: One of the most important challenges for law enforcement training in sexual assault investigation is the idea that many – or even most – reports are false. These cases often have a number of “red flags” that raise suspicion in the minds of officers, investigators, and others, but actually represent the realistic dynamics of sexual assault.

The presenter will review differences between a false report versus a baseless report, and inconsistent statements versus lying. He will also discuss how law enforcement can unintentionally create a “false report,” by creating an environment where victims recant or withdraw. This will be contrasted with real case examples of false reports he has investigated throughout his career.


At the conclusion of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Identify the “red flags” that raise suspicion of a sexual assault report.
  • Recognize our gut reaction to these “red flags.”
  • Recognize that these “red flags” are based on cultural stereotypes of “real rape.”
  • Define a false report.
  • Recognize that some information provided by the victim may not be accurate, but this does not necessarily mean it is a false report.
  • Recognize how law enforcement professionals can create a “false report.”
  • Reverse the cycle of suspicion that creates a “false report.”
  • Identify how many sexual assault reports are actually false.

If you are unable to attend the live webinar, it will be available as a recording in our webinar archive shortly after the event.


Presenter: Carlton Hershman, Detective, San Diego Police Department (Ret.), San Diego, CA

Detective Carlton Hershman is a 30-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department, retiring in April of 2017. Throughout his career, Detective Hershman worked several assignments including Patrol, Juvenile Investigations, Narcotics, Special Investigations Unit, Homicide, Sex Crimes, Elder Abuse, and the C.A.T.C.H. Team (Cyber Unit). During his time with the Sex Crimes Unit, he investigated more than 1,300 sexual assault cases over a nine-year period.

Detective Hershman is an instructor at the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Academy on topics such as sex crimes investigations, sex crimes laws, interviewing and interrogation, and Investigations 101. He also presents at San Diego area colleges and universities on acquaintance rape and sexual assault by intoxication. Detective Hershman is a lifetime member of the California Sexual Assault Investigators’ Association, and he has testified numerous times in the San Diego County court system as an expert in sex crimes investigations and victimology.

This project is supported by Grant No. 2015-TA-AX-K015 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.