Caught in a Web of Lies at UVA

Barb Wire

Oh! What a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive.
— Sir Walter Scott

Police in Charlottesville, Virginia, spent months investigating the claims made in a Rolling Stone story and found no truth:

A four-month police investigation into an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia that Rolling Stone magazine described in graphic detail produced no evidence of the attack and was stymied by the accuser’s unwillingness to cooperate, authorities said Monday.

The article, titled “A rape on campus,” focused on a student identified only as “Jackie” who said she was raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity more than two years earlier. . . .

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There were numerous discrepancies between the article, published in November 2014, and what investigators found, said Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo, who took care not to accuse Jackie of lying.

The case is suspended, not closed, and the fact that investigators could not find evidence years later “doesn’t mean that something terrible didn’t happen to Jackie,” Longo said. . . .

Asked if Jackie would be charged with making a false report, he said: “Absolutely not.”

Feminists immediately seized on that — Chief Longo’s unwillingness to rule out the possibility that “something terrible” happened — to insist that Jackie’s rape story could be true, except it’s really not.  Jackie’s story was a snipe hunt, a wild goose chase. Here’s the telltale clue:

Longo said Jackie’s first mention of an alleged assault came without key details, during a meeting she had with a dean about an academic issue in May 2013. The dean brought in police, but the case was dropped because Jackie didn’t want them to investigate, Longo said.

In any case, the “sexual act” she described that year was “not consistent with what was described” in the Rolling Stone article.

This is it, you see? Jackie is a serial liar.

She was a freshman having trouble in school, and so she lies. She tells the dean a vague story about being a rape victim. The dean asks police to investigate, but the liar won’t cooperate with the police because she knows her story is a lie. Jackie’s rape tale in May 2013, however, didn’t match the rape tale she told Rolling Stone in fall 2014. Why is this? The vague story she told the UVA dean was utilitarian, a deception meant to explain her problems in school, to depict herself as deserving of sympathy. The story Jackie told Rolling Stone, however . . .

Think about this: By fall 2014, Jackie had been living with her lies for two years. It started when she was a freshman in fall 2012 and tried to “catfish” her friend Ryan Duffin:

A University of Virginia student named Jackie appears to have used internet phone services to fabricate the identity of a man she says she was going on a date with on the night she claims she was gang-raped by seven fraternity members.

The fabrication of the man, who Jackie told her friends was named Haven Monahan, adds another layer of intrigue to a bizarre saga which has unfolded after the publication of a Rolling Stone article written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely . . .

Monahan appears to have come into existence soon after Jackie was romantically rejected by one of her friends, Ryan Duffin. . . .

“She did not take it well,” Duffin told The Daily Caller last week of Jackie’s response to the rejection. “There was a lot of crying involved.”

Soon after that, Jackie began talking about Monahan, a third-year student she claimed had a crush on her. Intrigued, the friends asked for Monahan’s phone number, and Jackie complied by giving it to them.

The friends began corresponding with Monahan, who often steered conversations back to Duffin, the friends told The Washington Times.

Despite claiming she was not interested in the man, Jackie told the friends she was going on a date with him on the night she later said she was gang-raped at a Phi Kappa Psi house party.

Read the whole thing in case you’ve forgotten how the story Jackie told Rolling Stone hinges on the identity of her “date” the night in September 2012 she claims she was gang-raped. There is every reason to believe that this story was invented by Jackie in a misguided attempt to solicit sympathy from her friends, especially Ryan Duffin.

However, we must keep in mind an alternative hypothesis: Just because Jackie lied about where she was and who she was with that night in September 2012 “doesn’t mean that something terrible didn’t happen to Jackie,” as Chief Longo said. In other words, having invented a boyfriend for a make-believe date that night, Jackie could have been assaulted by a person or persons unknown. Because of her own previous deceptions, however, she couldn’t tell her friends the truth. Furthermore, if indeed “something terrible” did happen to her that night, Jackie didn’t want anyone to find out what it actually was. Whether or not Jackie was assaulted that night, the underlying falsehood — the Haven Monahan catfishing deception — destroys her credibility.

Once you catch a liar lying, you cannot believe a word they say.

Someone who would engage in an elaborate deception like inventing a fake boyfriend, using fake phone numbers to write fake text messages from “Haven Monahan,” is not trustworthy.

Maybe Jackie did go out with a guy that night. Maybe the guy did treat her badly, perhaps even sexually assaulted her.

Maybe — although we cannot accept anything as true merely because Jackie says it, because we know that Jackie is a a liar.

Whatever actually happened to Jackie that night, we don’t know and cannot know, because the only source for the story has proven herself untrustworthy. And so when she told a UVA dean in May 2013 that she had been sexually assaulted, Jackie was uncooperative when the dean called the police. Yet the assault Jackie vaguely described to the UVA dean in May 2013 was “not consistent” with the story Jackie told Rolling Stone‘s Sabrina Rubin Erdely in fall 2014. If we have two versions of the story from the same source, and these stories differ significantly as to the time, place and nature of the events described, we cannot necessarily conclude that nothing happened, but we can conclude that the source is unreliable, i.e., Jackie is a liar.

So now we come to the real question: Why couldn’t Sabrina Rubin Erdely and her editors at Rolling Stone figure this out?

Why did they decide to rush to print with this wild story about a fraternity gang rape based on the word of a source who, as we now know, clearly had a habit of deliberate deception?

Rolling Stone editors must answer that question and, meanwhile, officials at the University of Virginia must answer another question: Why hasn’t Jackie been expelled for lying?

Jackie’s malicious lie about Phi Kappa Psi was a clear violation of the UVA honor code. Whatever the truth may be, Jackie lied to a national publication, defaming her fellow students, wrongly damaging the reputation of the university.

Jackie must be held accountable for her lies. The university’s institutional prestige is on the line, and only cowardice can prevent UVA officials from expelling her for her dishonesty.

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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Robert Stacy McCain
Robert Stacy McCain is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of experience in the news business. He is a correspondent for The American Spectator, editor-in-chief at Viral Read and blogs at

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