On Friday, Rolling Stone said it seriously screwed up in its story alleging a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity. The magazine admitted that it did not contact the man that an anoymous student, dubbed Jackie, said orchestrated an attack on her at a frat house, “nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her.” The magazine admitted that “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.”
A lawyer for the fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, told The Washington Post the frat did not host a party the night that Jackie says she was attacked and that it doesn’t do pledging or initations in the fall semester. The lawyer said none of the fraternity’s members were employed at the school’s Aquatic Fitness Center during the story’s time frame—a key detail in Jackie’s account. None of the fraternity’s members match Jackie’s descriptions either, according to fraternity officials who spoke to the Post.
The Washington Post made its own attempt to corroborate Jackie’s story by talking to her and her friends several times over the past week. Jackie’s friends do say they believe “something traumatic” happened to her, but have not been able to verify key points of her story. One of the men Jackie named was reached by telephone and said that although he did work at the Aquatic Fitness Center and was familiar with Jackie’s real name, he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi and had never met her in person.
Jackie told the Post that she she was overwhelmed by sitting through interviews with Rolling Stone contributing editor Sabrina Rubin Erdely and asked her to be taken out of the story. Erdely refused and said the article would go forward regardless, Jackie said, adding that she relented on the condition she be able to fact-check her parts of the story. Erdely supposedly accepted but said Friday morning she was not immediately available to comment.
Jackie's lawyer told WVIR-TV that they will discuss today's developments over the weekend.