On Monday, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo announced the findings of a five-month investigation into the potentially criminal allegations made in Rolling Stone’s blockbuster story on a gang rape at the University of Virginia in 2012. In short, the police found nothing.
“We’re not able to conclude to any substantive degree that an incident occurred” at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Longo said. “That doesn’t mean that something terrible didn’t happen to Jackie on the evening of Sept. 28, 2012. We are just not able to gather sufficient facts to what that would have been.”
The investigation blows four major holes in what were presented as facts in Rolling Stone by author Sabrina Rubin Erdely about the story of “Jackie,” who claims she was brutally gang-raped at the frat house after a date with a fellow student.
First and most damaging to the Rolling Stone article, the police said they could find no that anyone named “Haven Monahan” existed—the man Jackie says initially raped her. The Washington Post concluded last year based on interviews with Jackie’s friends (mentioned but not interviewed in Rolling Stone) that Monahan was a composite character of two students who went to Jackie’s high school. “Monahan” had texted with Jackie’s friends, even sending them a photo of himself. That photo turns out to have been another high school classmate of Jackie’s, who police determined was not at UVa at the time of the alleged assault.
“Several attempts were made to identify Monahan through a phone number that surfaced during the investigation,” the police report said. “The number was listed with Bandwith.com. The carrier was Google voice. A court order was sent to Google with negative results.”
Second, police said they were not able to find evidence of a party occurring at the fraternity on the night that Jackie claimed it had, and concluded from a time-stamped photograph that the house was practically empty that night.
Third, police said there’s no evidence that Jackie was assaulted by four men after the rape. Rolling Stone claimed that Jackie’s outspokenness on sexual assault following her alleged rape made her a target for a group of men, one of whom “flung a bottle at Jackie that broke on the side of her face, leaving a blood-red bruise around her eye.”
Jackie went to school officials to report that a group of males had attacked her and told a dean and a police detective that her roommate even removed glass from the wound. according to police. Longo said that Jackie’s roommate denies she pulled glass out of a wound. Furthermore, “the injury depicted in the photograph [taken after the incident] has the appearance of swelling above the right eye and an apparent abrasion on the upper cheek. In the opinion of the investigator, it did not appear consistent with being struck by a blunt object.”
(Not in the Rolling Stone article but told to a detective and a UVa dean was Jackie’s claim that she called her mother immediately after the assault. “Yet, a subsequent search of phone records which we believe to be ‘Jackie’s’ failed to yield any evidence that such a call was made,” police write. “In fact, no calls were made from April 5, 2014 from 8 p.m. to April 6, 2014 at 4 a.m.”)
Fourth, police found no evidence of two other sexual assaults that Jackie reportedly told the dean happened at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in 2010 and 2014. They were not reported to police, but Longo encouraged anyone with information to contact his department.
The story about the story isn’t over yet: The Columbia Journalism School will release its report on Rolling Stone on April 8. Finally, Phi Kappa Psi said it is “exploring its legal options” given the lack of police evidence.