Tags: university of virginia | gang rape | fraternity | Rolling Stone

Univ. of Virginia Gang Rape Writer Didn't Talk to Accused

Wednesday, 03 December 2014 08:09 AM

The Rolling Stone story about an alleged gang rape on the University of Virginia campus has come under fire over the writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s reporting methods, according to The New York Times.

The magazine article, "A Rape on Campus," revealed one woman’s harrowing claim that she was violently raped by seven members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the university in 2012.

The woman, whose name has been given only as "Jackie" by Rolling Stone, claimed she was pressured not to report her alleged rape because it would put the university in a bad light.

Her accusations are now being investigated by the Charlottesville, Virginia, police, while the school’s fraternities have been suspended until the spring semester so the institution can investigate the rape claim as well as the ensuing sexual assault allegations made by other female students on campus.

The Times says that critics have expressed concern about the way that Erdely, a Rolling Stone contributing editor, had written the story in light of her admission that she did not contact or interview the men accused of the rape.

In most cases, news organizations make it a matter of policy to reach out for comment when they plan to release a story about a person or group suspected of criminal conduct.

Erik Wemple, The Washington Post’s media critic, said, "For the sake of Rolling Stone’s reputation, Erdely had better be the country’s greatest judge of character."

Los Angeles Times columnist Jonah Goldberg speculated that the rape claim could be a hoax and compared the case to rape allegations made in 2006 against three lacrosse players at Duke University, who were eventually cleared.

Their accuser, Cystal Mangum, was later convicted of second-degree murder for stabbing her boyfriend in the chest during a fight in April 2011.

Erdely is standing by her story, and told the Times, "I am convinced that it could not have been done any other way, or any better. I am also not interested in diverting the conversation away from the point of the piece itself."

Erdely says that the real problem is that the university administration did not investigate the woman’s accusations until her story was published.

Rolling Stone also stood behind the article, saying in a statement, "Through our extensive reporting and fact-checking, we found Jackie to be entirely credible and courageous, and we are proud to have given her disturbing story the attention it deserves."

Unnamed "people familiar with the reporting process" told The Times that Jackie had asked that her attackers not be contacted, and Rolling Stone agreed to honor her request.

Helen Benedict, a Columbia University journalism professor who has reported on sexual assault in the military, also defended the way the article was written, according to the Times.

"If a reporter were doing a story about a university accused of failing to address the mugging or robbery of a student, that reporter would not be expected to interview the alleged mugger or robber," she said.

"The piece might have been stronger with more than one source, but exposés of wrongdoing often start with one whistle-blower."

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The Rolling Stone story about an alleged gang rape on the University of Virginia campus has come under fire over the writer's reporting methods, according to The New York Times.
university of virginia, gang rape, fraternity, Rolling Stone
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 08:09 AM
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