Tags: gang | rape | rolling stone

Rolling Stone Apologizes, Backs Down From UVA Rape Story

By    |   Friday, 05 December 2014 02:08 PM

Rolling Stone is apologizing for a story it published last month that described the brutal gang rape of a woman by a group of seven pledges at a University of Virginia fraternity house, saying there are many discrepancies in the college freshman's account that have caused the publication to conclude that its "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," Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana said in a statement on the publication's website Friday. "We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by this story."

The article, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, told of the alleged rape of the woman, who they called "Jackie," who claimed she was asked on a date by a college junior and went to a party at the frat house. She said that she went to an upstairs bedroom with the fraternity member and ended up being brutally raped by pledges, who were being directed by other men in the room.

"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," said Dana Friday. "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."

Further, the young woman's friends and campus rape activists supported her account, Dana said, and she had spoken about 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," said Dana. "They responded that they couldn't confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence."

Several other critics have also had their doubts about Jackie's story, including syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg, calling it "[one of those stories too useful to verify.]

Meanwhile, Ben Warthen, an attorney for the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity whose members were accused of the attack, said Friday the group plans to release a statement about the woman's claims, reports The Washington Post.

Officials that are close to the fraternity said that the organization's statement will show that it did not have a party on Sept. 28, 2012, the night the woman said she was raped.

In addition, the fraternity plans to say that none of its members were employed at the UVA Aquatic Fitness Center at the time the woman said she was raped, and that nobody in the fraternity matches the description of the young man detailed in the Rolling Stone article.

Meanwhile, Jackie's close friends, who are sex assault advocates at UVA, said they think something happened to her, but they also doubt her as the details of her story have changed, including the name of an alleged attacker that turned out to be similar to the name of a student in a different fraternity.

The man, who has graduated, said he was familiar with Jackie's name and that he did work at the Aquatic Fitness Center, where she said she met her potential attacker, but that he never met her in person or took her out on a date, and that he did not belong to Phi Kappa Psi.

The Washington Post has also interviewed the young woman and has been working to verify her story, but fraternity members said anonymously that her description does not match anyone they knew.

Jackie, now 20, told the Post that she stands by her version of the story, and that she "never asked for this attention."

"What bothers me is that so many people act like it didn’t happen," she said. "It’s my life. I have had to live with the fact that it happened every day for the last two years.”

Her attorney said she will not be making further comment beyond the interviews she's given.

UVA President Teresa Sullivan said systemic problems "must be rooted out," and Alex Pinkleton, a friend of Jackie who survived a rape and an attempted rape while on campus, said she 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."

In addition, Pinkleton said, the developing situation should not erase the "somber truth" the article revealed and that "rape is more prevalent than we realize" and is often misunderstood.

The article, meanwhile, resulted in UVA suspending Greek activities at the school and was published while the campus was coming to terms with the death of Hannah Graham, whose body was found five weeks after she went missing.

But Jackie also made other decisions that called her story into question, including not going to a hospital or the police, and she told the Post that she had not intended to go public until the Rolling Stone's reporter contacted her.

One campus rape advocate, Emily Renda, said she feels that if the details of Jackie's rape are disproven, "this feels like a betrayal of good advocacy if this is not true. We teach people to believe the victims. We know there are false reports but those are extraordinarily low."

Renda is the one who introduced Jackie to Erdely, and that Jackie had eventually asked to be removed from the article, but the writer refused. Jackie was told the article would go forward, and eventually she relented, on the condition she could read the article before it ran.

"I didn’t want the world to read about the worst three hours of my life, the thing I have nightmares about every night," Jackie said.

Erdely said in an email that she was not immediately available to comment Friday.

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Rolling Stone is apologizing for a story it published last month that described the brutal gang rape of a woman by a group of seven pledges at a University of Virginia fraternity house, saying there are many discrepancies in the college freshman's account.
gang, rape, rolling stone
Friday, 05 December 2014 02:08 PM
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