Rolling Stone casts doubt on rape story
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rolling Stone is casting doubt on the account it published of a young woman who says she was gang-raped at a fraternity party at the University of Virginia, a widely discussed article that put a spotlight on the issue of sexual assault on college campuses in the U.S.
A statement posted to the magazine’s website Friday said “our trust in her was misplaced.” The lengthy article, published last month, detailed what it called a hidden culture of sexual violence at that university.
The woman has been identified publicly only as “Jackie.”
The statement said that because of the sensitive nature of Jackie’s story, Rolling Stone decided to honor her request not to contact the men she claimed organized and participated in the attack. That prompted criticism from other news organizations.
“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,” the magazine’s statement said. “We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.”
University President Teresa Sullivan has asked Charlottesville police to investigate the reported gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi house. The fraternity has surrendered its fraternal agreement with the school and suspended all chapter activities.
“Our purpose is to find the truth in any matter and that’s what we are looking for here,” the police department said in an emailed statement Friday. “These articles do not change our focus moving forward.”
The school also had suspended activities at all campus fraternal organizations because of the story.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s spokeswoman, Rachel Thomas, said the governor has asked for an investigation while continuing to work “to ensure that Virginia’s college campuses are leaders in prevention, response, and awareness efforts.”
The statement posted on Rolling Stone’s website and signed by managing editor Will Dana said only that those discrepancies in the woman’s account became apparent “in the face of new information.” It does not detail that information.
The fraternity issued its own statement refuting the woman’s account, which detailed a Sept. 28, 2012 party at the Phi Kappa Psi house. The woman said she was led upstairs by her date, who then orchestrated her gang-rape by seven men. The woman said her date worked at the university swimming pool, and she quit her job as a lifeguard so she wouldn’t have to see him after the alleged rape.
However, the fraternity said in its statement a 2012 list of employees at the Aquatic and Fitness Center did not list any of its members as a lifeguard. It also said it had determined none of its members worked there in any capacity at the time.
The fraternity also said it had no social event during the weekend when the woman said the rape took place.