Rolling Stone Backtracks On Explosive UVA Gang Rape Story

Rolling Stone is backtracking from a major feature on sexual assault at the University of Virginia, citing “new information” that calls into question a purported rape survivor’s account of gang rape at a campus fraternity.

Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana posted a note to the magazine’s readers online on Friday. Here’s how he acknowledged the criticism the story has received:

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 apologise to anyone who was affected by the story.

Various media critics had noted that Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely appeared not to reach out to or speak to the alleged student rapists.

The Washington Post has more details on the discrepancies with the Rolling Stone article, but also notes that the UVA student Jackie stands by her account of the alleged sexual assault. Rolling Stone said it did not reach out to the alleged student rapists at Jackie’s request.

Specifically, The Post reports that the fraternity in question — Phi Kappa Psi — said that it didn’t host an event on the night that Jackie said she was invited to a date party by a brother and gang raped by seven people, while two others watched and directed.

Additionally, according to The Post, “The officials also said that no members of the fraternity were employed at the university’s Aquatic Fitness Center during that time frame — a detail Jackie provided in her account to Rolling Stone and in interviews with The Washington Post — and that no member of the house matches the description detailed in the Rolling Stone account.”

Here’s the full statement from Rolling Stone about the UVA sexual assault article:

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 honour 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 apologise to anyone who was affected by the story.

Will Dana

Managing Editor

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.