In the post-#MeToo online environment, allegations of sexual assault on Twitter and social media are on the rise. While some allegations lead to long-overdue accountability on behalf of sexual predators, others have been fabricated. If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault on Twitter it can cause irreparable damage if it is not dealt with swiftly and effectively.
If you are falsely accused of sexual assault on Twitter, you should take the following steps:
- Do not respond to the allegations;
- Do not engage further with the accuser;
- Control your emotions;
- Preserve the allegations and accompanying content;
- Assess any possible motives for the accusation;
- Document the timeline of events;
- Compile a list of possible witnesses;
- Contact an internet defamation attorney; and
- Reach out to a criminal defense attorney.
At Minc Law, we have received countless inquiries about false sexual assault and harassment allegations on Twitter. Not only have we helped clients identify who is behind fake Twitter accusations but we have helped remove more than 50,000 pieces of unwanted online content. When necessary, we help victims of false accusations file a defamation lawsuit and obtain injunctions to put an end to the online harassment.
In this article, we examine the increase in false sexual assault allegations being posted on Twitter and how they can negatively impact one’s personal and professional reputation. Then we will review steps one can take to respond to false sexual assault allegations and why you may want to work with a legal team to refute any accusations.
What it Means to Face Sexual Assault Allegations on Twitter
Being falsely accused of sexual assault, in and of itself, is incredibly stressful. Yet, sexual assault and sexual misconduct allegations on social media bring a whole new level of public ridicule and embarrassment. The #MeToo Movement, in particular, has empowered people to speak out publicly and use platforms like Twitter to tell their stories.
For better or worse, platforms like Twitter can provide an anonymous outlet for someone to publicly accuse another of sexual assault. While this empowers some sexual assault victims who would otherwise be scared to discuss their sexual assault, it also opens the door to false allegations of misconduct and worse.
Unfortunately, it is easy to create a fake Twitter account and post an allegation about someone. With a fake account, a person can protect their identity while they accuse others, leaving the target of the accusation with few options to defend themselves.
How Often Do Sexual Abuse Allegations Appear on Twitter?
Here at Minc Law, we receive countless inquiries from people facing sexual abuse allegations on Twitter. Many social media users feel empowered by sharing their experiences online. But sharing a false experience or story about someone can cause issues for both parties, including serious legal repercussions.
In the summer of 2020, multiple anonymous college-associated accounts popped up on Twitter with the sole purpose of accusing college students of sexual assault. One example of these types of accounts is @AtUmich which tweeted out anonymous sexual assault allegations against men on campus. This Twitter account is still live today, but the account is set to private. Other sexual assault survivor accounts have popped up throughout Florida and Utah, alleging students at prominent colleges of rape and assault.
In Louisville, Kentucky a bar owner was falsely accused of rape on Facebook – with posts reaching thousands of viewers in a matter of days. The business owner filed a defamation suit against his accusers, which appears to still be pending.
Celebrities and politicians have not been immune from these allegations either, with known complaints against everyone from Donald Trump to former Disney channel stars like Cole Sprouse. In a nutshell, people from every walk of life are facing social media accusations of sexual assault and experiencing serious damages as a result.
What Are the Consequences of Facing Sexual Assault Allegations on Twitter?
Sexual assault allegations are incredibly serious – as they should be. Rape and sexual abuse are terrible crimes that create long-lasting harm. Yet, the ease with which anonymous social media accounts can accuse another of such heinous crimes can reap considerable damage as well. Naturally, the targets of false accusations suffer harm, but the destruction goes further than just the individual accused.
If you are falsely accused of sexual assault or rape on Twitter, you could face extremely serious consequences. As you might imagine, any allegation that a person has committed a crime should be taken seriously because of the far-reaching ramifications.
Shame & Embarrassment
Sexual assault is morally reprehensible so even a false accusation can lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment.
Inability to Obtain Employment
If a social media accusation goes viral or appears when a potential employer searches your name, they may avoid you as a job candidate and potential employee.
And with 90% of employers looking at an applicant’s social media history – a false Twitter allegation can certainly hurt one’s chances of being hired.
Termination or Resignation From Job
Targets of false accusations who are employed might be disciplined or fired from their job as a result of the negative publicity. Others who are facing ridicule in the workplace may even resign in the aftermath of the Twitter sexual assault allegation.
In the post-#MeToo world, 60% of men report a fear of mentoring women at work, and a majority of both men and women find it harder to interact with one another in the workplace.
Suicidal or Self-Harming Thoughts
Feelings of shame, combined with a loss of support and other dire consequences can lead to suicidal ideation and self-harming behavior.
Expulsion or Dropping Out of School
When a student faces allegations of sexual assault, their school may respond with an investigation or other disciplinary action (like expulsion).
Even if a school does not discipline a student (or if an investigation finds no evidence of wrongdoing), a target of sexual assault allegations may drop out. Often, this is a response to the ongoing ridicule and embarrassment faced by those accused of assault.
Loss of Support From Family & Friends
If your friends or family believe the accusations launched against you, they might cut off communication and support. Particularly for college students who rely on their family financially, a false allegation can have major economic repercussions.
How Seriously Does the Public View Sexual Assault Allegations Made on Twitter?
It is safe to say the public takes sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations very seriously, even if they are on Twitter or other social media platforms. Many celebrities have been called out on Twitter for questionable behavior in the past, including Donald Trump, James Franco, Justin Bieber, and Ansel Elgort. The public took these allegations seriously, even “canceling” some of them.
Those who have inquired with our firm about false allegations on Twitter have reported that they have lost their jobs or careers over these allegations. They have indicated that their friends or family have turned their backs on them. The consequences these potential clients have suffered show that the public views sexual assault allegations on Twitter very seriously.
To make matters worse, some allegations follow people even after they have been cleared of all accusations.
Make sure to read our comprehensive article explaining why you should not publicly shame someone on social media.
Steps to Take If You Are Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault on Twitter
If you are accused of sexual assault on Twitter, do not panic. There are ways to clear your name and restore your reputation. Below, we will outline what you should do if you are falsely accused of sexual assault or harassment and how you can minimize damage.
What Should You Do if You Are Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault on Twitter?
Being falsely accused of sexual assault or rape on Twitter can be an overwhelming and shocking experience. But there are things you can do to clear your name and restore your reputation.
Do Not Respond
Responding to an attack can make the situation worse, draw unwanted attention to the matter, and possibly hinder your future case against this person. As hard as it is to stay quiet and not defend yourself, do not give in. Leave your defense to your representation.
Stay Away From the Accuser
In addition to not responding to this person, do not try to track them down and confront them in person.
Again, this can make the situation worse and possibly lead to other legal issues, like harassment or stalking.
Control Your Emotions
Do not make any rash decisions based on your emotions. It is okay to feel angry, confused, and frustrated, but it is best to keep your cool and think clearly.
Preserve the Accusations
Take a screenshot or preserve the allegation(s) using a preservation program, like PageVault or Visualping. You will need this evidence if you decide to pursue legal action against them.
Say a false accusation about you is deleted by the accuser and you determine that filing a defamation lawsuit is appropriate, if you do not have evidence of the false accusation then you may have your suit dismissed or may not even have a claim at all.
Assess Any Possible Motives
If you decide to work with an attorney, start brainstorming what possibly motivated this person to accuse you of sexual assault. This can help the attorney assess the best strategy to help you.
Document the Timeline
Your attorney may ask for a detailed timeline or account of what happened to help your case. Document every detail even if you do not think it may be important.
It is important to document the timeline of events, accusations, and interactions while they are fresh in your mind.
Make a List of Possible Witnesses
Creating a list of possible witnesses to the incident can help refute false claims with actual evidence and eye-witness testimony.
Witnesses and affidavits can help your attorney craft a factual and cohesive refutation of accusations. They can also strengthen a defamation case if you decide to sue your accuser.
Contact an Internet Defamation Attorney
Speak to an experienced internet defamation attorney, like those at Minc Law, to discuss your legal options and how to restore your online reputation.
An experienced internet attorney can help you:
- Remove defamatory content and accusations from the internet,
- Compile and preserve evidence,
- Unmask anonymous posters,
- Obtain injunctive relief to prevent future harassment, and
- File defamation lawsuits.
Reach Out to a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been contacted by law enforcement and a criminal investigation has been opened, reach out to a criminal defense attorney right away to begin protecting your interests!
To find an internet defamation or criminal defense attorney, we recommend searching your local or state bar association, and reaching out to family, friends, or co-workers for referrals.
We also recommend searching popular online legal databases such as Martindale-Hubbel, Avvo, and Lawyers.com.
How Important is it to Respond Appropriately to Allegations of Sexual Assault on Twitter?
We do not recommend responding publicly to allegations of sexual assault or rape on Twitter. It is best to speak with an attorney about your options in defending yourself against these false allegations. Your attorney can help you determine the best way to respond.
Some may choose to ignore the allegations and try to move on with their life. While this may be an option in some circumstances, it is not a choice for everyone. If the allegation has gained a lot of attention (hundreds or thousands of retweets) or appears in your search results, you may have no choice but to respond.
If you do not respond appropriately, you could face public ridicule, loss of employment, depression, or other negative consequences.
How Can You Minimize Damage to Your Business & Private Life if You Are Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault?
The only way to minimize damage to your business or private life from false sexual assault allegations is to strategically defend yourself. Ignoring the issue or not doing anything to defend yourself is only going to cause you more harm in the end.
Speaking with an experienced internet defamation attorney can help minimize damage to your business and private life. An attorney can come up with a plan to fight back against the false allegations, remove defamatory online content, and help you restore your good name.
To help control the damage caused by false sexual allegations, you may want to consider hiring an online reputation management (ORM) company or agency.
An experienced ORM company can craft a comprehensive game-plan to help improve your online reputation and suppress negative online content. ORM combines marketing, SEO, and public relations strategies to monitor and boost your online reputation.
For example, an experienced ORM agency can help you suppress false tweets from appearing on the first page in internet search results and create positive content about you to draw attention away from the false allegations.
Legal Actions to Protect Yourself Against False Sexual Assault Allegations on Twitter
If you are accused of sexual assault, rape, or other sexual misconduct on Twitter, there are several key legal actions you can take to defend yourself against false allegations.
When Can You Sue Someone For Making False Allegations of Sexual Assault on Twitter?
If someone accuses you of sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual violence, or rape on Twitter, you may have a claim for defamation of character. To sue for defamation on Twitter, you must prove the following elements:
- There is a false statement of fact that was made about you,
- It was communicated to a third party,
- It was communicated with at least negligence as to whether the statement was true,
- The statement was unprivileged (a requirement in some states), and
- It caused damage to your reputation.
By filing a defamation lawsuit, you may be able to obtain equitable relief, like a preliminary or permanent injunction to stop the defendant from continuing to harass or post allegations about you on Twitter.
Even if you are facing an anonymous accuser, a John Doe lawsuit can be filed to uncover their true identity. Once you know the identity of your accuser you can proceed with other legal options like a defamation lawsuit.
As there is no one-size-fits-all answer for determining a defamation lawsuit’s total costs, we recommend contacting an experienced attorney to discuss how to file a defamation lawsuit and how much a defamation lawsuit costs for your situation. There are several major factors that may impact the required budget to litigate for libel or slander, and we go over what those factors are in the video below.
Video: How Much Does a Defamation Lawsuit Cost? Cost to Sue For Defamation
Examples of defamation lawsuits stemming from allegations of sexual assault on Twitter and social media:
Twitter Sexual Assault Allegations Against Justin Bieber
In 2020, Justin Bieber filed a lawsuit against two Twitter users who made posts allegedly that Bieber sexually assaulted them. The two Twitter accounts accused Bieber of sexual assault on March 9, 2014. Bieber denied the anonymous allegations and sought damages of $20 million from the users.
Since the accusers did not reveal their identity on Twitter, Bieber had to obtain a court order to identify the women. While Bieber succeeded in obtaining a subpoena to identify his accusers, the defamation suit is still pending.
Sexual Misconduct & Assault Accusations Against The Gaslamp Killer
Alternative hip hop producer and DJ, William Bensussen, better known by his stage name, The Gaslamp Killer, was accused of drugging and raping two women back in 2013 on Twitter. Bensussen filed a defamation lawsuit against the women who made the allegations, calling the allegations “malicious and fabricated.” He sought $5 million in damages.
The lawsuit was later dropped after all parties posted a statement to their social media accounts expressing their desire to go their separate ways.
What Steps Can You Take to Increase Your Chances of Having the Accuser Retract Their Statement?
Retracting a statement means to recant, withdraw, or take back a previous statement. To increase your chances of having the accuser retract their statement or false allegation, you will need to hire an experienced attorney to assist. At Minc Law, we have a high success rate when it comes to removing false sexual allegations on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet.
Most of the time, the removal of the accusation is enough for our clients. However, there are some cases where a public apology or official retraction statement is appropriate. If you sue the person making false sexual assault allegations and win your case, the court may order the accuser to issue an apology or retraction statement. This is a relatively rare requirement, but it does occur in some cases.
Apologizing or retracting a previous statement is often within the discretion of the defendant and you may not be able to force a retraction absent a court order.
What Are Your Legal Options if You Want Twitter to Remove Your Accuser’s Tweets?
There are two main options if you want Twitter to remove your accuser’s tweets: report the tweet or report the accuser’s account.
Report the Tweet to Twitter
If you feel that the tweet violates Twitter’s Rules, you can use the reporting feature that Twitter provides to its users. To report a tweet, follow these easy steps:
- Log in to your Twitter account,
- Navigate to the tweet you would like to report,
- Click the three little dots located at the top of the tweet,
- Select “Report Tweet,”
- And select the reason you are reporting the tweet.
When you report a tweet or an account to Twitter, your report will stay anonymous. Once the report is submitted, you will receive a confirmation message from Twitter within 24 hours. It may take up to 7 days for Twitter to review your report.
Report the Fake Account to Twitter (if Relevant)
If you think the whole account violates Twitter’s Rules, you can use the reporting feature to report the account to Twitter. To report a Twitter account, follow these simple steps:
- Log in to your Twitter account,
- Go to the account profile and click or tap the icon with the three little dots,
- Select “Report,”
- Indicate the reason you are reporting the account.
When reporting an account, Twitter may ask you to select additional tweets from that Twitter user so they can get a better idea of the context of the situation.
Obtain a Court Order to Submit to Twitter
If reporting the tweet does not work, your other option to get Twitter to remove the tweet is to obtain a court order. A court order is an official proclamation issued by a judge directing a person or business to either undertake an action or refrain from performing a particular action. In this case, you would be seeking a court order directing Twitter to remove a specific tweet or account from Twitter.
Court orders should only be sought when you have exhausted all other options for removal. Specifically, you should seek a court order in the following instances:
- When you are unable to remove the content yourself,
- When the author of unlawful and damaging online content refuses to remove the content voluntarily,
- When the author who published the online cannot be identified and there is no other way to take the content down,
- When Twitter refuses to remove content and the author of the content also cannot remove it,
- When the website in question explicitly requires a court order to remove content, and
- When circumstances dictate it is the most efficient and effective way to stop the republication of unwanted content.
It is important to note that you cannot send Twitter a cease and desist letter or sue them for defamation. Platforms like Twitter enjoy broad immunity against defamation claims under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Section 230 is a piece of internet legislation that provides immunity for website platforms from being sued for content posted by third parties. If you take legal action over false sexual allegations, you need to pursue the person who posted the content, not the platform that hosted the content.
For an easy-to-understand explanation of Section 230 and why it should matter to you, check out our video below.
Video: What is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act?
Why Work With a Legal Team to Refute Allegations
Allegations of sexual assault or sexual misconduct are very serious. Consulting with a defamation attorney can help you decide the best course of action to take when you are the target of false accusations. An experienced defamation legal team can help you:
An attorney can help you:
- Present arguments to refute any false claims
- Craft a narrative,
- Compile and preserve evidence,
- File appropriate lawsuits, and
- Take charge of the situation.
If you are contacted by law enforcement or sexual assault charges have been filed against you, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. It is important to protect yourself and use the service of a professional in a situation like this. Always talk to a criminal defense attorney before speaking with law enforcement or request an attorney if you are arrested!
An experienced internet attorney can evaluate your situation and let you know whether or not you have a claim for defamation. These situations can be a “he said, she said” matter, and it is recommended that you hire an attorney to help you navigate an otherwise stressful and confusing time.
When Should You Seek Legal Help if You Are Accused of Sexual Assault?
False sexual assault allegations on Twitter can be life-changing. If you have been accused of sexual assault on Twitter (or anywhere online) you should seek legal help immediately.
Even if you feel like the allegations are ridiculous and completely fabricated, these types of accusations can have long-lasting consequences.
How Can Minc Law Help Defend You Against Online Sexual Assault Allegations?
If you are the victim of false sexual assault allegations or other defamatory online attacks, contact the attorneys at Minc Law. We have assisted countless clients with false allegations online and have proven success removing false sexual assault and misconduct allegations on Twitter. Whether it is sending cease and desist letters or filing defamation lawsuits, Minc Law can help you fight back against these false allegations.
“Melanie was absolutely fantastic. Six years ago, someone wrote something terrible about me online and it followed me wherever I went! Jobs, relationships, etc. I finally got in touch with Minc, and Melanie was so courteous, professional, and diligent about getting the post removed. Thank God for Minc Law because I’m getting married next year, and I finally feel comfortable using my full name on my wedding announcements! Thank you, Minc!!!”
HCP, Sept 28, 2020
We have litigated in over 26 states and 5 countries and are available to help no matter your location. We have also secured the removal of over 50,000 pieces of defamatory online content and know how to respond to meritless attacks on social media and restore your personal and professional reputation.
Reach out today to schedule your free, initial no-obligation consultation by calling us at (216) 373-7706 or by scheduling a meeting online by filling out our online contact form.