A five-month police investigation into an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, described in graphic detail in a Rolling Stone article, showed no evidence the attack took place and was stymied by the accuser's unwillingness to cooperate, authorities said Monday.
The article entitled "A rape on campus" traced the story from a student identified only as "Jackie," who said she was raped at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on September, 28, 2012. Police said there were numerous discrepancies between the article and what they found in their investigation.
"All I can tell you is that there is no substantive basis to conclude that what was reported in that article happened," Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said.
Longo said Jackie first described a sexual assault in May 2013 when she met with a dean about an academic issue, but "the sexual act was not consistent with what was described" in the Rolling Stone article. When she met with police, she didn't want them to investigate the alleged assault.
She also refused to talk to police after the article was printed in November and ignited the national conversation about sexual assaults on college campuses. Discrepancies in the article were found by news organizations soon after it was published.
Rolling Stone has apologized and said it would investigate.
Longo said the case is suspended, not closed. He said the fact that investigators could not find evidence "doesn't mean that something terrible didn't happen to Jackie."
Investigators spoke to about 70 people, including friends of the accuser and fraternity members, and spent hundreds of hours on the investigation, Longo said.
Police said in January they had been unable to confirm that the alleged gang rape occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi house, but added that they were still investigating.
In addition to the alleged gang rape, the article described a hidden culture of sexual violence fueled by binge drinking at the university.
In the article, Jackie said that during her first semester on campus, she had gone on a date with a classmate named "Drew" who later that night lured her into a secluded room at a fraternity house. Inside the room, she said, she was raped by a group of seven fraternity brothers while her date and one other man watched.
The magazine described a distraught Jackie later telling three friends about the assault, and two of them discouraging her from reporting it to authorities because she could become a social outcast. In interviews with The Associated Press, the friends said the opposite was true — that they insisted Jackie contact police, but she refused.
The article also reported that Jackie was gang-raped by seven men who beat her and threw her through a glass table while two other men urged them on in a fraternity house. The friends said Jackie told them that she was forced to perform oral sex on five men.
Phi Kappa Psi said it did not host a party at the house on the date Jackie said she was assaulted.
Contacted before the news conference, Jackie's attorney Palma Pustilnik said she would not have any comment afterward.
Social activities at fraternities were suspended after the article was published but were reinstated after Greek organizations agreed to rules banning kegs, requiring security workers and ensuring at least three fraternity members are sober.
The university said the new rules will be re-examined in May to determine whether adjustments are warranted.
Rolling Stone has asked the dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to conduct a review of its reporting. The magazine is expected to publish those findings in a couple of weeks, media outlets reported.
The fallout from the article contributed to a difficult academic year at U.Va. The September disappearance of 18-year-old student Hannah Graham gripped the campus for weeks, and the community was left grieving after her body was found a few miles away in rural Albemarle County. And last week, racial tensions erupted after a black student suffered a gash on his head while he was arrested outside a Charlottesville bar.
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