Rolling Stone magazine apologized to readers Friday for a story it published chronicling one woman’s account of a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house and the school’s failure to respond to that alleged assault.
The magazine editors made the choice not to contact the man who allegedly “orchestrated the attack on (the woman) nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her,” a decision Rolling Stone says it now regrets.
“In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in (the woman’s) account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced,” Rolling Stone said.
The woman — whom Rolling Stone identified as Jackie and who at the time of the alleged attack had just started her freshman year at the Charlottesville school — claimed she was raped by seven men at Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, while two more gave encouragement, during a party there.
Yet the University of Virginia’s Phi Kappa Psi chapter did not have a party the night of Sept. 28, 2012, the date when the reported attack occurred, the fraternity chapter’s lawyer, Ben Warthen, told CNN. He said email records and Inter-fraternity Council records prove there was no party.
Warthen said there were other discrepancies in the accuser’s account. For example, the orchestrator of the alleged rape did not belong to the fraternity, the fraternity house has no side staircase and there were no pledges at that time of year.
“It’s not part of our culture,” Warthen said. “It’s just not true.”
Rolling Stone’s scathing report, detailing not just Jackie’s graphic allegation of the gang rape at a fraternity party and the school’s supposed indifference to those who are victims of sexual assault, stirred a firestorm on the University of Virginia campus.
At a recent emergency meeting of UVA’s governing board, Rector George Keith Martin said, “To Jackie and her parents, I say I am sorry. To the survivors of sexual assault and their families, I am also sorry.”
The board unanimously adopted a resolution affirming a zero-tolerance approach toward rape and sexual assault cases, though what exactly that means remains to be seen.
“This type of conduct will not be tolerated at the University of Virginia,” Martin said. “The status quo is no longer acceptable.”