Why Would a Man Sue a Woman for Accusing Him of Rape?

Why does a man sue a woman for accusing him of rape? Stephen Galloway is doing it.
Photo by jaci XIII on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Steven Galloway is filing a lawsuit.

If you don't know who Steven Galloway is, he is a former UBC writing professor who was accused of various forms of sexual assault and harassment by a group of former students, including rape. It's a classic case of he said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said that became extra-contentious because prominent Canadian writers like Margaret Atwood spoke out in his defence. (Or rather, in defence of "due process", but you know, it all sounds the same when being screamed into the void.)

The university's investigation unsurprisingly decided that his claims were more credible than those of the women but he was still fired. Now he is suing 20 women: those who accused him as well as those who "recklessly" supported their accusations online.

I have a lot of questions about this whole situation, but right now I have one question in particular: why would a man sue women for accusing him of rape?

Let's investigate the possible scenarios.

Scenario #1: He didn't do it.

In this case, one assumes that he wants to put the evidence on public trial so that he can, hopefully, clear his name.

The problem here is that, in the exceedingly rare case of a false rape allegation, it is very likely that the accuser will admit they lied relatively early in the process, making this scenario a combo of an unlikely event inside an exceedingly rare case. Not technically impossible, but hugely improbable.

Scenario #2: He did it but didn't think it was rape at the time. (And still doesn't?)

I like to think that, were I told that a sexual encounter I thought was consensual was, in fact, not, I would be filled with guilt, shame, horror, and a desire to make reparations. The only way any decent person could get around that is if their brain enacts its immense power to rewrite reality through denial, in which case, he might believe he is in the first scenario, defending his good name.

(One big issue here, however, is that I am not convinced denial is quite strong enough to make you absolutely certain you are innocent. You'd still have to swallow a lot of self-doubt to believe that you know what the other person was experiencing more than they do, right? I guess that's where other mental gymnastics come in where you decide to blame the victim for not making it clear enough that they didn't want to have sex or you do some Kavanagh-style thing where they were raped, but are confused about who did it.)

Scenario #3: He did it and is aware that he did it.

What could motivate anyone to sue someone for accusing them of something they DID DO? Aside from being obviously cruel and morally wrong, it seems foolish, right? Why remind more people of the accusation? Why make a big show of asking for a test that you might fail? Or at the very least, that you know you should fail?

Here's one explanation: you know you will get away with it. You know how the system works, you know what they have as evidence against you, and you know that you will be able to lie and win. You are going to publicly and financially ruin the person who you have already hurt so terribly instead of taking any responsibility for your own actions. You are the worst.

I tried really hard to think of another explanation, but nothing came to mind. To sue someone for accusing you of rape, you either have to be certain you are innocent or a really bad person.

Ugh. I was hoping that analyzing the situation would help me feel better in some way, but it didn't. How about you?

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  1. Why would a man sue a woman for accusing him of rape?
    For him to sue is to ask a court to decide if she is defaming him. That is, she is being asked to credibly show he did rape her. It will likely be he said, she said, but judges have to weigh that kind of testimony and decide who is to be believed. Despite the problems with courts, it’s at least a controlled fact-finder,
    Is it being suggested that it’s wrong to put a woman to her proof?
    This lawsuit is Steven Galloway’s against his accuser, MC, where she can defend herself and also counterclaim that he sexually assaulted her. See the 2013 case, Vanderkooy v. Vanderkooy, https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2013/2013onsc4796/2013onsc4796.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQAOMjAxMyBPTlNDIDQ3OTYAAAAAAQ

  2. Richard, thank you for sharing that court document - I have never had the opportunity to read one before. I haven't had time to read the whole thing, but I will.

    What I was trying to get at here is what is behind the motive of asking the court to make this kind of ruling. If a man is not 100% certain he is innocent, then what is he doing? Trying to clear his name, certainly, but at what cost? What does it say about a person's ethical framework? If he knows he is guilty - or even is unsure of his guilt or innocence - then a court case is not about revealing the truth but about fixing a reputation.

    So no, it is not wrong to ask a woman to submit her proof in a court of law - if the accused is innocent and knows it. If not, then it tells me that they care more about their reputation than the damage they have (or may have) done to another human being, and that is deeply troubling to me.