OK, I came across this on Facebook, which is amazing, since I don’t go on Facebook except every two or three days.
Rolling Stone’s UVA Rape Story Just Took Another Massive Hit
Dec. 10, 2014 7:02 pm
The Washington Post just published another investigative report on the University of Virginia gang rape allegations—and whatever credibility Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Rolling Stone had left is totally obliterated.
WaPost spoke with the three friends who rescued Jackie after her alleged gang rape on September 28, 2012. The details they provided depart significantly from Jackie’s narrative as reported by Erdely. The friends told WaPost that Jackie did not appear battered or bloodied and gave a description of the attack significantly different than what was later published in Rolling Stone. They also clarified that it was Jackie who didn’t want to go to the police, not them:
The scene with her friends was pivotal in the article, as it alleged that the friends were callously apathetic about a beaten, bloodied, injured classmate reporting a brutal gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. The account alleged that the students worried about the effect it might have on their social status, how it might reflect on Jackie during the rest of her collegiate career, and how they suggested not reporting it. It set up the article’s theme: That U-Va. has a culture that is indifferent to rape.
“It didn’t happen that way at all,” Andy said.
Instead, the friends remember being shocked. Though they did not notice any blood or visible injuries, they said they immediately urged Jackie to speak to police and insisted that they find her help. Instead, they said, Jackie declined and asked to be taken back to her dorm room. They went with her — two of them said they spent the night — seeking to comfort Jackie in what appeared to be a moment of extreme turmoil.
Erdely portrayed Jackie’s friends as popularity-obsessed sociopaths who deterred her from reporting the assault. They say that’s not true; it was Jackie who didn’t want to report it.
That may seem damning, but it’s just the beginning. According to the friends, Jackie did name her attacker, but no one by that name attended UVA. Pictures of the attacker—the man Jackie claimed was a UVA junior who had asked her out on a date—that she provided to the friends were actually pictures of a former high school classmate who never attended UVA and “hasn’t been to Charlottesville in at least six years.” His name is not the one Jackie gave her friends. These details were all verified by WaPost.
Here’s the timeline, according to the friends:
The three friends said that Jackie soon began talking about a handsome junior from chemistry class who had a crush on her and had been asking her out on dates.
Intrigued, Jackie’s friends got his phone number from her and began exchanging text messages with the mysterious upperclassman. He then raved to them about “this super smart hot,” freshman who shared his love of the band Coheed and Cambria, according to the texts, which were provided to The Post. …
Jackie told her three friends that she accepted the upperclassman’s invitation for a dinner date on Friday Sept. 28, 2012.
Curious about Jackie’s date, the friends said that they failed to locate the student on a U-Va. database and social media. Andy, Cindy and Randall all said they never met the student in person. Before Jackie’s date, the friends said that they became suspicious that perhaps they hadn’t really been in contact with the chemistry student at all.
U-Va. officials told The Post that no student by the name Jackie provided to her friends as her date and attacker in 2012 had ever enrolled at the university. Randall provided The Post with pictures that Jackie’s purported date had sent of himself by text message in 2012.
The Post identified the person in the pictures and learned that his name does not match the one Jackie provided to friends in 2012. In an interview, the man said that he was Jackie’s high school classmate but that he “never really spoke to her.”
The man said that he was never a U-Va. student and is not a member of any fraternity. Additionally, the man said that he had not visited Charlottesville in at least six years and that he was in another state participating in an athletic event during the weekend of Sept. 28, 2012.
If the friends’ narrative is accurate, it seems doubtful that “Drew” exists at all, and is instead the product of some kind of catfishing situation. Compare that with Rolling Stone editor Sean Woods’ initial claim that “I’m satisfied that [the perpetrators] exist and are real. We knew who they were.”
One of the friends, “Randall,” also told WaPost that Erdely lied when she wrote that he declined to be interviewed because of “loyalty to his own frat.” Randall said he would have gladly given an interview but was never contacted.
The friends quoted in the latest article still say Jackie’s changed behavior that first semester is evidence of some trauma she sustained. That may be true, although it is difficult to say what, exactly, that might have entailed. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest such a trauma bears any resemblance to the incredible story told by Rolling Stone.
Lest anyone think that this debacle is solely the fault of someone who falsely claimed rape, keep in mind that these fraudulent charges were put forth by a national magazine that made no effort to verify them, and ignored every red flag in its haste to publish the story of the century—even when Jackie refused to name her attackers and attempted to withdraw her story. Whatever the truth is—whatever the excellent reporters at WaPost manage to uncover next—the fact remains that Rolling Stone and Erdely should have known better.
The degree to which everyone involved in this travesty of journalism failed at their jobs is almost unbelievable. But unlike the story of a gang rape at UVA, we now have incontrovertible proof of it.
Author of Rolling Stone article on alleged U-Va. rape didn’t talk to accused perpetrators
Supporters fill the McIntire Amphitheatre at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville during a rally on Nov. 20, after the publication of a Rolling Stone article laying out rape allegations. (Ryan M. Kelly/AP)
By Paul Farhi
The writer of a blockbuster Rolling Stone magazine story about an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity has said that she was unable to contact or interview the men who supposedly perpetrated the crime.
In interviews with The Washington Post and Slate.com last week, writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely declined to answer repeated questions about the men’s response to an allegation by a female student named Jackie that they had sexually assaulted her at a U-Va. fraternity party in 2012.
However, in a podcast interview with Slate, Erdely indicated that she was unable to locate the fraternity brothers in the course of her reporting to get their side of the story.
“I reached out to [the accused] in multiple ways,” Erdely said in the Slate interview. “They were kind of hard to get in touch with because [the fraternity’s] contact page was pretty outdated. But I wound up speaking . . . I wound up getting in touch with their local president, who sent me an e-mail, and then I talked with their sort of, their national guy, who’s kind of their national crisis manager. They were both helpful in their own way, I guess.”
Sean Woods, who edited the Rolling Stone story, said in an interview that Erdely did not talk to the alleged assailants. “We did not talk to them. We could not reach them,” he said in an interview.
Tommy Reid, right, president of the University of Virginia’s Inter-Fraternity Council, speaks Nov. 24 about the alleged sexual assault at a news conference last month. (Steve Helber/AP)
However, he said, “we verified their existence,” in part by talking to Jackie’s friends. “I’m satisfied that these guys exist and are real. We knew who they were.”
News organizations typically seek comment from those accused of criminal acts or from their attorneys as a matter of fairness and balance, as well as to confirm that the individuals exist.
Erdely’s Nov. 19 article, which touched off a criminal investigation and an outraged reaction among the school’s students, faculty and alumni, included no such response and gave no indication that she had met or seen the men, who Jackie said were still on campus.
The nine men who Jackie said participated in the gang rape were not identified by name in the Rolling Stone story. But the article contained clues to their identities, including their affiliation with the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at U-Va. and their attendance at a party at the frat in September 2012. “Drew,” the frat brother who allegedly lured Jackie to the darkened room at the fraternity in which the assault took place, was described in the most detail in the article. Erdely said that he was an attractive U-Va. junior and a lifeguard at a university pool.
No one has been arrested for the alleged crime. The university has turned the matter over to the Charlottesville police, who have launched an investigation.
Erdely declined to address specific questions about her reporting when contacted on Sunday and Monday.
“I could address many of [the questions] individually . . . but by dwelling on this, you’re getting sidetracked,” she wrote in an e-mail response to The Post’s inquiry. “As I’ve already told you, the gang-rape scene that leads the story is the alarming account that Jackie — a person whom I found to be credible — told to me, told her friends, and importantly, what she told the UVA administration, which chose not to act on her allegations in any way — i.e., the overarching point of the article. THAT is the story: the culture that greeted her and so many other UVA women I interviewed, who came forward with allegations, only to be met with indifference.”
The University of Virginia held a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss recent allegations of sexual assault that have rocked the campus. University President Teresa Sullivan said any systemic problems “must be rooted out.” (AP)
She added, “I think I did my due diligence in reporting this story; RS’s excellent editors, fact-checkers, and lawyers all agreed.”
Woods said that the men were not named in the story because “we were telling Jackie’s story. It’s her story.”
In her article, Erdely quoted the fraternity’s chapter president and a spokesman for Phi Kappa Psi’s national chapter. Both expressed shock at the allegations when informed of them by university administrators but said that they had no direct knowledge of them and were seeking to substantiate them.
There have been no arrests in the case, and no alleged assailants have been publicly identified.
In her interview with The Post, Erdely said that she “corroborated every aspect of the story that I could.” She said that she did not identify any of the alleged attackers in the article “by Jackie’s request. She asked me not to name the individuals because she’s so fearful of them. That was something we agreed on. She was nervous about naming the frat, too. I told her, ‘If we’re trying to shine a light on this, we have to name the fraternity.’ ”
Erdely declined to say whether she knows the names of the alleged perpetrators, including “Drew.”
“I can’t answer that,” she said. “This was a topic that made Jackie extremely uncomfortable.”
HIT & RUN BLOG
Lessons of Rolling Stone’s UVA Catastrophe: We Can’t Prevent Rape If We’re Deluded About It
Dec. 9, 2014 9:10 am
UVA Karen Blaha / Wikimedia Commons
Suppose Jackie’s story was not so incredible. Suppose that premeditated, ritualistic gang rape was a plausible occurrence at the average college. Suppose that one in every five—or four, or three—female students found themselves in serious danger of assault the moment they set foot outside their dorm rooms. Suppose that America’s campuses really did rival Somalia in terms of the violence faced by young women.
Would it be enough to merely place a moratorium on Greek activity, form a task force, and defend the actions of administrators who failed to report rape to the police, as University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan has done (arguably in violation of the Constitution)?
Of course not.
On the other hand, suppose the details of Jackie’s story were exaggerated, or in doubt. Suppose that premeditated, ritualistic gang rape was highly implausible. Suppose that cherry-picked statistics from a few unrepresentative studies were clearly masking an extraordinary decline in rape rates nationwide over the past few decades. Suppose the best available evidence suggested that campuses were, on the whole, safer for women than other environments. Suppose that campus sexual assaults were largely the work of a few sociopaths and nearly always the result of alcohol-induced incapacitation.
Wouldn’t the supposed solution to the campus rape crisis look markedly different?
In a major magazine story that succeeds on all the levels Rolling Stone’s failed, Slate’s Emily Yoffe argues persuasively that we live in the latter world. Confusion about the prevalence of rape and its proximate causes—confusion that Rolling Stone has only worsened—has driven governments and universities to greatly mishandle sexual assault by mandating solutions that wrongly evaluate the scope of the problem while needlessly violating civil liberties, from due process to freedom of association.
Yoffe quickly cuts through the hyperbole about surging assault rates and discovers that college campuses aren’t nearly as dangerous as we have let ourselves believe:
Being young does make people more vulnerable to serious violent crime, including sexual assault; according to government statistics those aged 18 to 24 have the highest rates of such victimization. But most studies don’t compare the victimization rates of students to nonstudents of the same age. One recent paper that does make that comparison, “Violence Against College Women” by Callie Marie Rennison and Lynn Addington, compares the crime experienced by college students and their peers who are not in college, using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey. What the researchers found was the opposite of what Gillibrand says about the dangers of campuses: “Non-student females are victims of violence at rates 1.7 times greater than are college females,” the authors wrote, and this greater victimization holds true for sex crimes: “Even if the definition of violence were limited to sexual assaults, these crimes are more pervasive for young adult women who are not in college.”
Rennison, an associate professor at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver, recognized in an interview that her study goes against a lot of received wisdom. “Maybe that’s not a really popular thing to say,” she said, adding, “I hate the notion that people think sending kids off to college is sending them to be victimized.”
We see this fear manifest itself all the time. After reading Yoffe’s story, I instantly thought of Reason’s Lenore Skenazy, who warns that many parents—as well as the state—have become myopic about the relative dangers their kids face. Skenazy has covered cases where police arrested parents for letting their children play outside by themselves, or wait in the car while mom grabbed groceries. Unrealistic fears about predators waiting around every corner to snatch and abuse kids have prompted the enactment of paranoid laws; these are bad for society and minimize child and parental autonomy, but do little to make children safer.
Consider Skenazy’s video for Reason TV. She discovered that concerns about sex offenders abusing kids on Halloween are entirely misplaced, and laws that force registered sex offenders to turn off their lights or report to a facility during Halloween hours are cruel and needless. In most respects, kids are no less safe on Halloween. In fact, the one great danger to trick-and-treaters is being hit by a car. Skenazy’s research suggests that taking the cops off sex offender patrol and putting them on crossing guard duty would be a far more effective use of police resources.
It’s not that children face no danger; rather, certain dangers are exaggerated in people’s minds (predators) and others minimized (car accidents). And so the policy designed to make children safer ends up focusing on the wrong thing.
It’s the same with rape. Culture does not cause rape. Tasteless jokes do not cause rape. Fraternities are not universal rape factories. Rape is not occurring more frequently. Whatever happened to Jackie, it wasn’t a Silence of the Lambs sort of ordeal as reported by Rolling Stone.
Which is not to say that nothing happened to Jackie, or that rape never happens, or that it has no cause or cultural enablers, or that all frats behave perfectly all the time. Of course rape happens, and it’s a serious matter deserving of everyone’s attention. The police should vigorously investigate accusations and prosecute offenders. Policies can and should be changed to diminish it. But this can only be done if people have a good sense of the scope of the actual problem.
And at the end of the day, obliterating that scope is perhaps the most costly consequence of Rolling Stone’s disastrous abandonment of journalistic principles. The article’s defenders cling—wrongly—to the notion that the world is brimming with Drews, and as such, all Jackies should automatically be believed without question. But some of the article’s critics, who are right about its significant flaws, will nevertheless draw the incorrect conclusion that all accusers are liars. Neither outcome is good for addressing actual sexual assault.
The ubiquity of misleading statistics about rape and absurd policies designed to deter it—including, most notably, affirmative consent policies that make neo-Victorian requirements of students who want to have sex—betray a great deal of societal confusion on this issue. Rolling Stone has worsened the matter, and it’s going to take lot more articles like Yoffe’s to undo the damage.
So, it seems to me that the Rolling Stone isn’t really a good source of information. They have committed some serious journalistic errors. But, one thing is that the Rolling Stone is trying to backpedal, and that is good for the men’s movement, as a whole. Perhaps this will remember this case in the future if you hear of a man that is falsely accused of rape.
In my opinion, if I am ever on a jury for a rape case where the victim is a female, I will try to say proudly, NOT GUILTY… unless the man actually admits it. In general, I believe that every male-initiated rape is a false accusation of rape.