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Blockbuster U. Va. Frat Rape Story Crumbling

Blockbuster U. Va. Frat Rape Story Crumbling

Rolling Stone admits “there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account”

We’ve been skeptical of Rolling Stone’s recent and controversial story about a coed simply referred to as ‘Jackie’ who claimed to have been brutally gang raped at a University of Virginia frat party in 2012.

Sabrina Ruben Erdely, the Rolling Stone reporter covering the UVA gang rape story, failed to contact the alleged attackers and corroborate Jackie’s story. Any ‘new information’ Rolling Stone is referring to is simply the product of basic journalistic due diligence.

In a reactionary response, and without first conducting an investigation of their own, UVA suspended all campus fraternities until January as a result of the Rolling Stone expose.

Today, Rolling Stone posted the following note to readers (emphasis added):

To Our Readers:

Last month, Rolling Stone published a story titled “A Rape on Campus” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, which described a brutal gang rape of a woman named Jackie at a University of Virginia fraternity house; the university’s failure to respond to this alleged assault – and the school’s troubling history of indifference to many other instances of alleged sexual assaults. The story generated worldwide headlines and much soul-searching at UVA. University president Teresa Sullivan promised a full investigation and also to examine the way the school responds to sexual assault allegations.

Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie’s story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her. In the months Erdely spent reporting the story, Jackie neither said nor did anything that made Erdely, or Rolling Stone’s editors and fact-checkers, question Jackie’s credibility. Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie’s account. She had spoken of the assault in campus forums. We reached out to both the local branch and the national leadership of the fraternity where Jackie said she was attacked. They responded that they couldn’t confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence.

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. 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. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.

Will Dana
Managing Editor

The accused fraternity released the following statement, which was published by the Washington Post:

“Over the past two weeks the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi has been working tirelessly and openly with the Charlottesville Police Department as they investigate the allegations detailed in the November 19, 2012 Rolling Stone article. We continue to be shocked by the allegations and saddened by this story. We have no knowledge of these alleged acts being committed at our house or by our members. Anyone who commits any form of sexual assault, wherever or whenever, should be identified and brought to justice.

“In tandem with the Charlottesville Police Department’s investigation, the Chapter’s undergraduate members have made efforts to contribute with internal fact-finding. Our initial doubts as to the accuracy of the article have only been strengthened as alumni and undergraduate members have delved deeper. Given the ongoing nature of the criminal investigation, which we fully support, we do not feel it would be appropriate at this time to provide more than the following:

“First, the 2012 roster of employees at the Aquatic and Fitness Center does not list a Phi Kappa Psi as a lifeguard. As far as we have determined, no member of our fraternity worked there in any capacity during this time period.

“Second, the Chapter did not have a date function or a social event during the weekend of September 28th, 2012.

“Third, our Chapter’s pledging and initiation periods, as required by the University and Inter-Fraternity Council, take place solely in the spring semester and not in the fall semester. We document the initiation of new members at the end of each spring. Moreover, no ritualized sexual assault is part of our pledging or initiation process. This notion is vile, and we vehemently refute this claim.

It is our hope that this information will encourage people who may know anything relevant to this case to contact the Charlottesville Police Department as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will continue to assist investigators in whatever way we can.”

The Washington Post did the tough investigative work Rolling Stone failed to do and picked up the phone to fact check. In addition to the fact that the fraternity’s account seems to contradict a number of Jackie’s accusations, WaPo found it difficult to corroborate many details of her story:

A group of Jackie’s close friends, who are sex assault awareness advocates at U-Va., said they believe something traumatic happened to Jackie but also have come to doubt her account. They said details have changed over time, and they have not been able to verify key points of the story in recent days. A name of an alleged attacker that Jackie provided to them for the first time this week, for example, turned out to be similar to the name of a student who belongs to a different fraternity, and no one by that name has been a member of Phi Kappa Psi.

Reached by phone, that man, a U-Va. graduate, said Friday that he did work at the Aquatic Fitness Center and was familiar with Jackie’s name. He said, however, that he had never met Jackie in person and had never taken her on a date. He also said that he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi.

Alex Pinkleton, a close friend of Jackie’s who survived a rape and an attempted rape during her first two years on campus, said in an interview that she has had numerous conversations with Jackie in recent days and now feels misled.

“One of my biggest fears with these inconsistencies emerging is that people will be unwilling to believe survivors in the future,” Pinkleton said. “However, we need to remember that the majority of survivors who come forward are telling the truth.”

Pinkleton said that she is concerned that sexual assault awareness advocacy groups will suffer as a result of the conflicting details of the Rolling Stone allegations.

Pinkleton’s concerns are spot on. Actual instances of rape will be taken less seriously for every fabricated or inaccurate rape story that makes it’s way into the headlines.

This story makes the third rape allegation this week that has either been debunked or inaccurately reported.

A federal investigation found that a student at the University of Chicago fabricated rape threats to drum up support for cultural sensitivity issues.

In her book, Lena Dunham claimed to have been raped by a “mustachioed campus Republican,” a claim that doesn’t hold up to basic fact checking either.

It’s important to clarify that while there are gaping holes in the Rolling Stone UVA allegations, we don’t know what actually happened to Jackie. The issue is one of journalistic malfeasance of the worst kind.

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Henry Hawkins | December 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Fake, but accurate. Wilfonggggggggggg…………………

Erdly’s going to have to go, but her head should not be the only Rolling Stone.

    Mercyneal in reply to Immolate. | December 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    The managing editor, Will Dana needs to go, for permitting the agreement between the magazine and author that they not contact the boys who raped her. Washington Post has suggested that the editors may not have even KNOWN the name of the boys when they published the story.

    Rolling Stone’s attorneys and fact checkers should also be fired.

Not A Member of Any Organized Political | December 5, 2014 at 3:37 pm

More Progressive/Leftist/Democrat Lovers’ Lies Collapsing on top of them??????????????????

Wow, what a surprise. Obviously bogus story turns out to be fake. Who could have guessed? (Other than anybody who read the obviously bogus story, that is).

I hope this reporter and Rolling Stone get sued good and hard for this sleazy defamation. I also hope Teresa Sullivan gets fired from UVA, again, and this time for good.

    Estragon in reply to Observer. | December 5, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Amen to that. Fat, leftist, and stupid is no way to go through life – even if she is an old pal and colleague of Elizabeth Warren.

If this story turns out to be entirely or mostly fake then how much of a law suit has Rolling Stone opened themselves up to?

The Volokh Conspiracy on Lena’s story seems to say that the answer is ‘a lot’.

We have adults visiting large concentrations of young, gullible people, and telling them that the ordinary behavior of well-trained American boys in their late teens and early twenties is “rape culture.” One of the unconcealed purposes of these people is to coerce universities into sponsoring (paying for) these same people to handle the resulting complaints. These people have a venal interest in making accusations against young men, in order to justify their pay.

They have been careless about the way they draw interest, and the results predictably have included false accusations.

Rape is a crime. It is a felony. Schools are not competent to handle the investigation or prosecution of crimes.

I would suggest that, if a given school retains the desire to prosecute some sort of infraction, they should consider two of them: intimate discourtesy, and lack of clarity.

    Ragspierre in reply to Valerie. | December 5, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Oh, but it’s SOOOOOOooooo much more than just crass money interests involved.

    One of the great realizations in life is that money is often NOT a motivator at all. People act out of many incentives, including raw hatred and the need to be considered “right” by some peer group.

    So much of this current witch-hunt against young men is the simple expression of unvarnished hatred by radical feminists on campus. They make no bones (ok, pun!) about their insane positions on any XY person on the planet, including even those who mutilate themselves with a “sex change”.

      NC Mountain Girl in reply to Ragspierre. | December 5, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      Some media operations and more than a few religious denominations actually believe that losing paying members/readers means they are moving in the correct direction. That they are challenging people’s assumptions or that their arguments are too complex for ordinary people to accept.

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to Valerie. | December 6, 2014 at 2:11 am

    There are also adults who celebrate some very sick behavior by girls. Only a few months ago we heard all about the Duke coed who had empowered herself by performing as Belle Knox in porn videos and who talked about how she liked choke-porn. Funny thing is that if you look closely, it appears the so empowered Ms. Knox is a cutter.

What about Erdely?

Remember, she was supposedly “working on a screenplay based on the story” and even Jackie now feels misled by her.

Seems a giant fraud for money by the reporter, not just the usual lying feminist garbage.

Don’t we have laws about such things?

What Rolling Stone did is unconscionable. The UVA and local community just went through a real abduction, rape and murder of a young coed by a serial rapist/murderer. Not to defend Teresa Sullivan(she’s a friend of Elizabeth Warren), but emotions have been running high here, and an over reaction is understandable. UVA’s reputation will be permanently damaged. Sue, sue, sue.

The best, most sober and responsible coverage, I’ve seen during this whole unraveling hoax has been veteran editor Richard Bradley’s at his Shots in the Dark blog.

He was one of the (if not the) first ones to ask the question, back on November 24th, “Is the Rolling Stone Story True?”

I really recommend heading over there and reading his posts, from November 24th through today, for a good timeline. He really did a superlative job, and managed to remain pretty much above the partisan fray the whole while (no matter how hard Jezebel tried to drag him down to their level).

This absolutely calls into question every article Sabrina Erdely ever published. She has won awards that ought to be withdrawn. She deserves to be sued for every cent she has. This is the highest form of journalistic malfeasance imaginable.

    Exiliado in reply to MikeE. | December 5, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    This is the highest form of journalistic malfeasance imaginable.

    Definitely a contestant.
    But the competition here is hard. Lately, we have seen most MSM outlets demonstrating their skills at “journalistic malfeasance.”

    Right off the top of mi head, and only to a start the list:

    – The Zimmerman case
    – The Obama case (here the list is loooooooong)
    – Ferguson, MO

Richard Aubrey | December 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm

I think it was George Will–who got in trouble for it–who said there is a victimization sweepstakes. And microaggressions don’t leave evidence. You don’t have to prove anything. Jackie should have gone with microaggressions.

This is what happens when advocates masquerade as journalists. Rolling Stone is gonna be paying out a buttload of money because they didn’t do basic fact-checking.

Luckily for the fraternity they had the resources to push back hard. That white privilege stuff comes in handy some times.

    myiq2xu in reply to myiq2xu. | December 5, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Imagine if the accused had been the UVA branch of college Republicans.

      Bruce Hayden in reply to myiq2xu. | December 6, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Sorry about that – my iPad refusing again to play well with LI.

      What is interesting to me, thinking back to my fraternity days, is how much we just took that white privilege for granted. We had attorney alums in town for those petty things that young men sometimes do. Also, a couple of faculty were also brothers. Worse, another house survived on campus until the president, a member of the same national fraternity, retired. No rape claims, but rather some pretty wild parties.

      Still, I think the Greek system tends to be more positive than negative on most campuses. When I was in college, maybe 1/5 of the kids of both sexes were Greek, but invariably held most class and student body offices, had much better GPAs, did much more community service, and were, overall more successful in life.

      I was happy enough with Greek life in college that I encouraged my kid, some 40 years later, to participate, which they did, and I expect that if and when they have kids, will do the same.

      Which is why I think that UVA should end up paying here, and their president with her job. What seems to be ignored is that the faculty apparently was quite happy with expelling all fraternities from campus. My theory is that most of these left wing academics who so hate the Greek system, do so because they were too obnoxious to be offered membership when they were in college. And, yes, the left’s traditional and inevitable hate for any power centers than the ones they control.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to myiq2xu. | December 6, 2014 at 10:32 am

    The interesting thing to me, thinking back t

Rolling Stone is the magazine that made its name in the 1960’s covering men of dubious moral qualities. Some of them slep with women who were almost certainly underage.

Who’s going to compensate the fraternity for the expenses it incurred. I heard on the radio this morning that the members who would be sleeping at the frat house are now at a hotel. Who’s paying for that?