You may have heard of Rolling Stone’s article titled “A Rape on Campus,” in which a young woman called “Jackie” accuses several fraternity members of allegedly gang raping her when she was a freshman. The piece in question was received with horror by readers, who in many cases could relate to similar experiences.
Countless comments were left on the original article and subsequent pieces published in the magazine. However, further investigation has led to questions regarding Jackie’s story. For starters, an article in Slate magazine asks why the reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not speak to any of the alleged perpetrators when investigating the story.
This story made national headlines, and put fraternities square in the middle of a very sensitive topic: sexual assault on American campuses. The fraternity culture at the University of Virginia — where Jackie’s case took place — led to heated debates about how the Greek Culture is seen by many women.
Now that people are questioning the Rolling Stone gang rape story, the magazine has been forced to make a public statement from managing editor Will Dana, which they printed on Friday. The entirety of the statement is found below.
“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 honor 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 apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.”
Erdely admitted that she did not talk to any of the alleged perpetrators for her story in Rolling Stone magazine, even though she claims she attempted to get their side. In the author’s defense, her goal was to focus on the horrendous experience Jackie had on the UVA campus, and says she didn’t identify the woman’s attackers at her request.
It is hard to say what will come of the Rolling Stone statement on “A Rape on Campus.” Stay tuned to more updates.
[Image via Twitter]