Update on the UVA Rape Case

On November 19, 2014, Rolling Stones magazine published a 9,000-word article, detailing the tragic frequency of sexual assault on the University of Virginia’s college campus. The article centered on an alleged female student victim of a brutal gang rape, Jackie. Jackie’s story, in the beginning, offered a platform for victims of sexual assault to share their story and promote change, especially on college campuses. The article too pointed out the lack of stipulation the administration at UVA instrumented when dealing with sexual assault cases.

It was not until the facts of Jackie’s story were proved false, one by one, when the story turned into what could have been a national platform for reform into a sensational scandal.

Sabrina Erdely, the author of Rolling Stones article, “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” followed Jackie’s wish of not contacting her assaulter. However, Erdely did not contact various key characters in Jackie’s story: Jackie’s friends who aided her after the incident or the fraternity that the alleged accuser was a part.

The Washington Post launched an investigation into Jackie’s account of her sexual assault. The Post found discrepancies in Jackie’s story, such as Phi Kappa Psi, where the alleged rape took place, did not have a social event that specific date.

Erdely and Jackie both stand by the account detailed in the article.

“What bothers me is that so many people act like it didn’t happen,” said Jackie in an interview with the Washington Post, cited in a January 2015 New York Magazine article. “It’s my life. I have had to live with the fact that it happened — every day for the last two years.”

Less than a month later after the publication of the Rolling Stones article, the magazine released a statement about their doubts of Jackie’s story. Originally, the magazine stated that, “we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced,” implying that it is wrong to place trust in a rape victim, according to the Washington Post article.

Rolling Stones, due to the backlash the apology received, revised their apology, and said, “these mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie.”

Soon after the release of the apology, Jackie’s freshman year roommate wrote an op-ed piece for University of Virginia’s newspaper, claiming that Jackie’s story “is not a hoax” and that something bad happened to her roommate.

“Something terrible happened to Jackie at the hands of several men who have yet to receive any repercussions,” said Jackie’s roommate, quoted in the Washington Post article.

As of this 2015 spring semester, the Charlottesville police have “no reason to believe” that a rape took place at Phi Kappa Psi and the fraternity has been reinstated at UVA, according to the New York Magazine article.

Many journalists believe that while though Erdely’s intentions were honorable, her methods of reporting were not sufficient, according to the New York Magazine article.

What truly happened that night is still unclear, but as one of Jackie’s friends, Ryan Duffin, said in a New York Magazine video, “It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, because whether this one incident is true, there’s still a huge problem with sexual assault in the United States.”