Education Law

Rolling Stone backs away from UVa gang-rape story that resulted in fraternity sanctions

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Rolling Stone ignited a firestorm last month by publishing a story about a young woman who said she had been gang-raped at a fraternity event at the University of Virginia in 2012.

Students at U.Va. protested, the fraternity named in the story was vandalized and all fraternity activities at the school were suspended by university president Teresa Sullivan until Jan. 9, Insider Higher Ed reported less than a week after the magazine ran the story. Sullivan promised a full investigation and said U.Va. would examine the manner in which it responds to student rape reports.

Now Rolling Stone is backing away from the article, which relied on information from a woman identified only as “Jackie” who said she was the victim of the attack, USA Today and the Washington Post (reg. req.) report.

The Rollng Stone article did not include any response from Jackie’s alleged attackers.

“In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced,” said Will Dana, who serves as managing editor of Rolling Stone, in a written statement posted on the magazine’s website Friday.

“We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account,” the statement continues. “We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.”

According to her own account, “Jackie” never reported the brutal attack she claimed to have endured to police, in part because she was discouraged by U.Va. administrators from doing so, a Politico opinion piece noted earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the author of the Rolling Stone article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, has said she believed her source but it isn’t clear from news coverage if Erdely has even been told the names of the men Jackie said attacked her, according to the Washington Post (reg. req.).

In a Friday written statement published by the Washington Post (reg. req.), the fraternity at which Jackie said she was attacked explained it has been cooperating with Charlottesville police and urged others with any knowledge to do so as well.

The statement cited several discrepancies between facts alleged in the Rolling Stone article and what the fraternity says are the actual facts.

“We continue to be shocked by the allegations and saddened by this story,” the fraternity says. “We have no knowledge of these alleged acts being committed at our house or by our members.”

Related coverage:

Time: “No Formal Police Investigation Yet in UVA Rape Case” “O’Melveny tapped to lead probe of University of Virginia’s handling of sex-assault reports”

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