Let me add in two factors that might help the discussion. First of all, there’s memory. Secondly, there’s the need for a way to think about ‘rape reports’ which does not make them all questionable until proven otherwise.
First of all, memory. Ordinary people often enough take the fact that we have memories to show that we have recording devices inside us that somehow secure most of the details of our experiences. There are several reasons why this is false. If nothing else, calling up a memory and then restoring it alters it a bit. And memory follows vision in getting the gist of things better than getting the precise details down. There was a recent NY Times OpEd by two top researcher on memory and its fallibility. Given what we know about memory, we should expect this young woman’s memory to be gappy and to have errors. And even more so considering the trauma of the experience she was reporting. Because an organization was named by her, it may be that a reporter aware of recent memory research should have checked it.
But this does not mean that reports of rape are somehow particularly suspicious, or even that hers now is. I think we need a way to recognize that human beings are fallible, and empirical evidence is full of examples of how we get things wrong, but that does not mean we should view everything everyone says with a heavy dose of doubt.
Decades ago when I was working in epistemology, we had the useful notion of defeasibility. Perceptual statement can be wrong, but that does not mean that we can only accept those provable from premises mentioning only private, quite incorrigible experience. Rather, we recognize that our statements are defeasible; they may be wrong, but that does not give us a reason to think they are unless we start to get evidence against them.
It would be good if feminist philosophy had explored this area more and have worked out ways of appropriately evaluating statement without robbing injured women of their epistemic authority. Is anyone aware of progress in this area?