Case Study / Sex Charges
Even a Polygraph Can Lie
A young African-American man is accused of raping a teenage girl. The only evidence is verbal: the girl’s statement to a deputy sheriff and the young man’s supposed “confession” during a polygraph exam. There is no forensic evidence: no fibers, no fingerprints, no hair, and no fluids. No SART (Suspected Abuse Response Team) exam was performed. There were only words.
During interrogation, a deputy sheriff tells the young man that if he tells the truth, they won’t think he’s a rapist, or even a “criminal.” They say he should get what he’s done off his chest and they won’t think he’s a bad person. But if he lies to them, and continues to deny what he’s done, they will think he’s a criminal. They never turn on the polygraph machine he’s hooked up to, and they never tell him that it’s not on.
And the young man never says that he committed any assault. Instead, his interrogators tell him that they know that he did it, and get him to agree to this by saying that if he just says “yes” to them, everything will be okay and they won’t think he’s a criminal. They don’t exactly tell him they’ll let him go, but they do say, over and over, he won’t be a “criminal” if he’ll just agree with them.
With no forensic evidence and no actual, true confession, the young man is found not guilty.