Hearing news that your son has been charged with sexual assault will be so shocking that it will be hard to believe. When this happens many of us become super anxious and paralysed, or move straight to denial and believe it will simply go away.
You must overcome these initial feelings as quickly as possible and act now. Do not be complacent. Do not depend on hope or prayer that the situation will resolve.
Every single thing you do at this point will be significant and can make a huge difference in your and your son’s life. Your instinct is not to tell anyone but you have to come to terms with what has happened really quickly and start reaching out for help……..your son’s freedom depends on it..
If your son tells you a story where you believe he has been set up, you are likely to assume the police will see through the accusations and it will all go away. Know that the most unlikely rape accusations, without any supporting evidence, are now taken extremely seriously with men treated as guilty from the very first accusation.
The whole justice system is set up to believe women. Expect that your son will not receive fair treatment, and his accuser’s view of what happened will be believed rather than his. Be aware that the police and prosecutors may not be interested in properly examining all the evidence.
Some of our mothers have talked to public prosecutors who warn they are under massive political pressure to achieve more rape convictions. Feminists have convinced politicians and authorities that our justice system is failing women by letting too many men get away with these crimes, particularly in “date rape” cases where juries find it hard to determine which side to believe. The result is almost all sexual assault cases are pushed through to trial, and police are under pressure to come up with evidence to support the accuser’s case, even if this means ignoring or suppressing evidence that could prove the man innocent.
Two years ago a series of UK rape cases collapsed following revelations of deliberate withholding of key evidence by prosecutors and police. Be warned that exactly the same problems exist in our legal system.
Here’s some further advice from MOS mothers whose sons have faced sexual assault accusations:
We understand how crazy it sounds … and too horrible even to contemplate, but your son could end up in jail despite the fact that he is innocent, whether or not there is proof of innocence, and despite no indication of guilt aside from the allegations.
Get an experienced lawyer right away if you can afford one. See lawyer’s page for advice on this.
Don’t let your son be interviewed by police. Unless he is under arrest he is only required to give his name, address and date of birth and then is free to leave. See our police page.
Don’t let him be convinced by police to “just tell the truth and it will be fine.” Anything he says to them can and will be used against him.
Your son should immediately stop discussing any details of the situation with anyone except his lawyer and family members.
Under no circumstances should your son communicate with the complainant or those connected with him/her.
Get your son immediately to close down Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social media or public online accounts. Though everything on those sites may be intended as innocent fun, it can be used against your son.
Collect and retain as much evidence as you can to support your son’s case. Start by taking an inventory of all communications with the accuser: Snap Chat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Save in a separate file all relevant text messages and emails as they may be vital in finding your son not responsible. Look for photos and even receipts or other information that may help your son’s case by, for example, proving your son was elsewhere when the incident occurred. Pay attention to key card swipe records, phone records, taxi/Uber receipts and any other potentially relevant documentation.
Try to find and keep track of evidence that may be destroyed; for example, security camera footage in bars or public places because video evidence can undermine your accuser’s claim that he or she was severely intoxicated. Create a list of potential witnesses who may have observed the events alleged in the complaint or have any information about what happened. If you are concerned about contacting those witnesses yourself, hire an investigator to do this on your behalf.
Witnesses may include those who observed your son and/or the accuser before or after the alleged events. Witnesses might also support claims that the accuser has a motivation to fabricate or exaggerate his or her claims. This can occur for many different reasons including retribution, discovery of infidelity, to appease friends.
There may come a time when you seriously need to consider the worst, that is, your son may be held in remand/custody. It’s difficult to push aside emotions should this happen but try to be practical. You need to get a Power of Attorney on behalf of your son so you can handle his affairs such as tax, property, banking and other business arrangements.
It is very likely that the accusations or charges against your son will also be in the media and probably in a very sensationalised way. Prepare yourself for this eventuality by informing those who are important to you that this will happen.
Download a printable copy of this advice as a PDF