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Sally C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute [go to Pipes index]

Womanhoax Revisited
Perfecting victimhood
[Sally C. Pipes] 1/7/05

Back in March 2004, we explored a case which seemed to indicate that women are better than men at faking stories that cast themselves as victims. The verdict is in, literally.

On December 15, Kerri Dunn, professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna College in southern California, was sentenced to one year in prison following her conviction for filing a false police report and attempted insurance fraud.

As we noted in the earlier piece, professor Dunn told police that vandals had damaged her car, stolen more than $1,700 worth of her personal property, and sprayed the vehicle with racial slurs. The professor, who is white, told the police she had been the target of "a well planned-out act of terrorism," for speaking out against racism on campus. It wasn't quite that simple, but Dunn's story was swallowed, hook, line, and sinker.

Her charges drew a 1,000-word news story in the Los Angeles Times, replete with photos. Police called it a hate crime. College officials canceled classes and posted a $10,000 reward for apprehension of the vandals. The FBI even joined the hunt. Dunn became a hero on campus, a champion of the battle against oppression. A week later it emerged that the "act of terrorism" had indeed been planned – by professor Dunn herself.

Two witnesses saw her Dunn driving the car, already adorned with hateful graffiti, into a parking garage, where she smashed the windshield and slashed the tires. Then the supposedly stolen items mysteriously turned up in the possession of Dunn. Meanwhile, reporters who had been taken in by Dunn's antics started looking into her background.

During her time at the University of Nebraska, where she earned degrees in law and psychology, Dunn was arrested for driving with fictitious license plates. She was also arrested for shoplifting, found with, among other things, a pink sweater, three Liz Claiborne bracelets, a necklace and a pair of earrings, and $403 worth of steak knives.

Hoaxes involving racism and sexual assault have become common on college campuses. Some of the perpetrators are male, such as Ahmad Saad Nasim, the University of Arizona student who faked assaults against himself, hoping to show himself a victim of 9-11 backlash. Women, however, appear to have the upper hand.

As we previously observed, at the University of California, Davis, student Angela Hartley made up a story about being kidnapped at knifepoint and assaulted. University of Wisconsin student Audry Seiler faked her own abduction. At the University of Iowa, student Katharine Robb faked a story about being raped by four black men. For Kerri Dunn, a faculty member no less, one year is probably not enough but the action sends an important message.

Political correctness may still be the rule on campus but the courts, thankfully, do not feel obliged to abide by its dogmas. Kerri Dunn's prison sentence should prompt reporters and editors to conduct some research and ask some hard questions before they publish. It should encourage healthy skepticism among campus officials, who must no longer take seriously the politically correct argument that hoaxes don't matter. And most of all, it should help explode the cult of victimhood. tRO

copyright 2005 Pacific Research Institute




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