The crumbling of Rolling Stone’s story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia is sending shock waves through the media this weekend but there’s another rape story which is also now being questioned.
Lena Dunham of the HBO program ‘Girls’ claimed in her recent memoir ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ that she was raped by a Republican student while attending Oberlin. Breitbart News has conducted an extensive investigation of her claim and the facts are coming up short.
John Nolte reports:
INVESTIGATION: Lena Dunham ‘Raped by a Republican’ Story in Bestseller Collapses Under Scrutiny
After a month-long investigation that included more than a dozen interviews, a trip to the Oberlin campus, and hours spent poring through the Oberlin College archives, her description of the campus remains the only detail Breitbart News was able to verify in Dunham’s story of being raped by a campus Republican named Barry.
On top of the name Barry, which Dunham does not identify as a pseudonym (more on the importance of this below), Dunham drops close to a dozen specific clues about the identity of the man she alleges raped her as a 19-year-old student. Some of the details are personality traits like his being a “poor loser” at poker. Other details are quite specific. For instance, Dunham informs us her rapist sported a flamboyant mustache, worked at the campus library, and even names the radio talk show he hosted.
To be sure we get the point, on three occasions Dunham tells her readers that her attacker is a Republican or a conservative, and a prominent one at that — no less than the “campus’s resident conservative.”
For weeks, and to no avail, using phone and email and online searches, Breitbart News was able to verify just one of these details.
Nolte’s report is long but worth reading in full.
Breitbart’s investigative work was so thorough that Eugene Volokh of the Washington Post is already entertaining a scenario in which the accused man identified as ‘Barry’ could sue Dunham.
Could ‘Barry’ sue Lena Dunham over her memoirs?
A reader writes:
I think … VC/Wapo readers (including those sympathetic to Ms. Dunham) would be interested in your thoughts on whether Barry “One” (as the … Breitbart article refers to him) has a potential cause of action against Lena Dunham and/or Random House for negligence, [intentional infliction of emotional distress], false light, libel, whatever (assuming he can prove that he did not rape or otherwise have sex with Ms. Dunham as described in her memoir). At least to me, the question of whether an author can be held liable (consistent with the First Amendment) for intentionally or unintentionally (but negligently, if proved) ruining an innocent person’s reputation or life, is very interesting …. And in the Breitbart article, it mentions that Barry has hired a lawyer, so legal action may be being contemplated (in the Kevin Williamson piece in National Review … Barry expresses that this is taking an immense, negative toll on him and his family).
A very interesting question, to which it turns out that there’s a good legal answer (assuming we can figure out the facts).
1. Lena Dunham’s memoir describes her having sex with someone named Barry, whom she labels as Oberlin’s “resident conservative.” Her description seems to me to leave it somewhat ambiguous as to whether Barry raped her, but it does describe some sexual behavior by Barry that at the very least reflects badly on him.
This was a bad week for rape culture activists but a win for due process.
Featured image via Breitbart video.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.