Rolling Stone magazine says it now doubts the veracity of an account of a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia that triggered a massive uproar.
Rolling Stone magazine said there "appear to be discrepancies" in its explosive story about sexual assault at the University of Virginia. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Managing editor Will Dana said in a note to readers Friday that there "appear to be discrepancies" in the alleged victim's story and "we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced."
Rolling Stone published the story, "A Rape on Campus," last month, featuring a disturbing account from a woman named Jackie who said she was raped by seven men in a UVA fraternity house while others watched. The story electrified the conversation about sexual assault on campus, and the University of Virginia temporarily suspended all fraternity and sorority activities.
In recent days, however, suspicions have been raised about facts in the story, including by some of Jackie's own friends. Officials close to the fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, told the Washington Post it didn't host a party on the night in question.
Additionally, at Jackie's request, journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely did not contact the alleged attackers to get their side, a decision Dana said Rolling Stone now regrets.
Read the full editor's note:
Last month, Rolling Stone published a story titled "A Rape on Campus" by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, which described a brutal gang rape of a woman named Jackie at a University of Virginia fraternity house; the university's failure to respond to this alleged assault – and the school's troubling history of indifference to many other instances of alleged sexual assaults. The story generated worldwide headlines and much soul-searching at UVA. University president Teresa Sullivan promised a full investigation and also to examine the way the school responds to sexual assault allegations.
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. 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. Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie's account. She had spoken of 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. They responded that they couldn't confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence.
In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our 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. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.