The managing editor of Rolling Stone, Will Dana, issued a statement on Friday apologizing to readers and suggested that many of the claims in their blockbuster story on gang rape at the University of Virginia were inaccurate. The story in question, “A Rape on Campus,” described a horrific rape of student they identified as “Jackie” allegedly at a fraternity party on the UVA campus.
After publication, Jackie’s story did not hold up to media scrutiny and as Dana wrote, “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.”
The Rolling Stone writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, had not attempted to contact any of the men that Jackie claimed raped her. Once Erdely’s story made national headlines, major contradictions came to light. Discrepancies mentioned in a Washington Post article Friday include: the fraternity claims that they had not had a party on the night identified in the article, none of their members were employed at UVA’s Aquatic Fitness Center where Jackie claimed to have met the ringleader of her attack, and no member of the fraternity matched the physical description of Jackie’s rapist.
Full text of Rolling Stone Managing Director Will Dana’s statement:
To Our Readers:
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.
Photo credit: Ryan Kelly/AP.
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