Police: ‘No Basis’ For Rape Claims At UVA Frat
Months after spectacular gang-rape allegations against a University of Virginia (UVA) fraternity were made and then partially withdrawn by Rolling Stone magazine, police have officially confirmed what already appeared almost certain: There is currently no evidence that a rape, let alone a gang rape, occurred at the house in September 2012.
The abortive scandal exploded last November, when a 9,000-word Rolling Stone story recounted in gruesome detail the supposed experiences of “Jackie,” a student at the school. According to the story, Jackie was attending a frat party at Phi Kappa Psi when she was lured into a back room, thrown through a glass table, and then raped for hours by seven different members of the house. Despite severe injuries, the article claims that Jackie’s friends largely ignored the attack against her, while university officials took no action against her alleged rapists.
Now, police say, the entire tale appears to be a mirage.
“We have no basis to conclude that anything happened at that fraternity house,” Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo told reporters at a press conference. Accordingly, the department is ending its investigation into the matter, though it’s leaving the case open on the chance that some evidence eventually arises.
“This doesn’t mean that something terrible did not happen to Jackie,” Longo said. It appears very unlikely that’s the case, however. Longo said the department couldn’t even find evidence that Phi Kappa Psi actually held the party that Jackie’s alleged gang rape supposedly occurred at.
“We were unable to find a statement of fact that there was even an event” at Phi Kappa Psi, he said.
The initial reaction to Rolling Stone’s article was explosive. Large-scale protests erupted on campus from students demanding action. UVA suspended all frats for close to two months, and Phi Kappa Psi’s house was vandalized.
As time passed, however, questions arose over just how true the story was. Critics noted that Sabrina Erdely, the story’s author, never reached out to many individuals accused of facilitating a violent gang rape, while it was also noted that the severity of Jackie’s alleged assault seemed implausibly over the top.
Further reporting by The Washington Post created an even more bizarre picture, suggesting that Jackie had invented an entire fictional boyfriend as part of a ploy to attract the interest of a student she had a crush on, and then may have had that fake boyfriend “rape” her as a way to gain his sympathy.
Eventually, Rolling Stone issued a statement acknowledging “discrepancies” in the original story and saying it misplaced trust in Jackie. The magazine did not quite retract the story, but it pledged a further investigation.
Rolling Stone has announced that it plans to release the results of a review into its own reporting and editorial practices within two weeks. The review is being conducted by Steve Coll, dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
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