Just like TI and nearly everyone else on your timelines, Akon had some words on Nelly’s recent arrest on sexual assault allegations. Speaking with TMZ outside LAX on Saturday, Akon said that he was “almost 100% positive (Nelly’s) innocent,” which sounds like one of those over-qualified statements with dubious credibility — except it’s another dangerous, baseless dismissal of a woman’s sexual assault claims.
Akon said he doubted that the Nelly “he knew” could be guilty of rape because “he’s an amazing person… people like us are licks for these girls now. We are targets on every level. Half the time, they’ll set up a charge just for us to settle out,” he said, with no mention of the other ”half” of women with legitimate rape accusations.
Akon does have merit in theory. Wealthy entertainers and athletes could be high profile targets for any number of nefarious schemes, but to haphazardly apply that to “half the time” women accuse men of sexual assault is a level of reckless that Akon apparently doesn’t grasp.
The latest available facts are that false rape claims occur 2% to 10% of the time, which may or may not be a different number within the sphere of famous people (maybe Akon could lead that study), but that number is enough of a far cry from “half the time” for Akon to not be “100% positive” anyone is innocent of rape just because of how well he knows them.
Akon probably thought he was just defending his friend and shedding light on potential travails of fame, but his comments continue to support the tradition of men discrediting a woman’s claims of sexual assault despite having no idea what may have happened between the accused and accuser. His sentiment is why the Department of Justice estimates only 15.8% to 35% rape cases are even reported and people such as the woman who recently accused Miami rapper Pouya of rape have to twice note that there will be people who don’t believe her confession post.
So yes, famous people are potential targets for sexual assault lawsuits, and that could have happened to Nelly, who denies the claims, but the reported number of false accusations of rape is actually so small that it’s willfully ignorant to assert that women are lying about something that traumatic “half the time.” It would have been great for Akon to just say “we don’t know what happened” so I wouldn’t have had to write this post. I’ll put the blame on him.