Back in September, when the alleged-then-retracted Hofstra gang rape was front page news, I made the following observations about it:

If a woman is raped by a man she’s been intimate with before, or raped in the course of a sexual encounter that began as consensual, or raped in circumstances in which her judgment may be called into question, she can expect to be disbelieved, shamed, and attacked, and that expectation may lead a rape survivor to alter her story to make it more palatable to police, or to a jury, or even to her friends and family.

I don’t know what happened that night, and I expect that I never will. I’m not accusing any of the five men who were named of anything, and I’m not saying that the fact that they were accused means they must have done something wrong. I don’t know, and I’m not interested in speculating.

I do, though, want to say clearly that the question of what happened isn’t a binary one of “she told the truth, and they’re guilty” vs. “she lied, so they’re innocent.”

It’s possible that she lied and that some or all of them are guilty.

Yesterday the historian KC Johnson stumbled across that post, and concluded from it — I swear I’m not kidding — that I’m a “campus ideologue … trained to believe that women never lie about rape.”

We know for a fact that Danmell Ndonye lied about rape, because she told two contradictory stories about an alleged rape. My entire post was premised on the obvious fact that women sometimes lie about rape. In a comment on that post — a comment Johnson quoted from — I said that Ndonye’s “allegation should not have been taken as proof that she was the victim of a sexual assault.”

But apparently I believe that women never lie about rape.

And that willful misreading isn’t enough for Johnson. He goes on to pull the last sentence of my post out of context, snip away the crucial italics, and offer it as my “startling claim” that “it’s possible that [Ndonye] lied and that some or all of them [the falsely accused men] are guilty.”

As I said in a (long trapped in moderation purgatory) comment at Minding the Campus, the Manhattan Institute blog where Johnson’s post appeared, there are two factual claims in my blockquoted passage above: first, that “a rape survivor [may] alter her story to make it more palatable to police, or to a jury, or even to her friends and family,” and second, that it was possible — not likely, not probable, just possible — that Ndonye’s original lie was a lie of that kind.

Johnson finds these suggestions preposterous.

And I find that deeply depressing.

Postscript: Four days after my original post on the Hofstra case, the Nassau County DA decided that she would bring no criminal charges against Ndonye. Under the terms of an agreement between Ndonye and the DA’s office, Ndonye stipulated that she had not been sexually assaulted or sexually abused by the men she had accused. The DA was later quoted as saying that she was convinced that what happened that night was consensual, and I have no reason to doubt her assessment.

October 14 update: It took two Twitter messages, an email, and a week’s wait, but the folks at Minding the Campus have finally posted the comment referenced in this post, as well as a link to this post.