Rolling Stone Backtracks on Explosive UVA Rape Story, Issues Apology

Says there are "discrepancies" in source's story.

ByABC News
December 5, 2014, 2:42 PM

— -- A stunning report about how rape is handled at UVA that sparked national outcry and prompted the university to suspend all fraternity activities for the year is now being called into question.

Rolling Stone magazine today began distancing themselves from the shocking story published last month about a student that the publication identified as "Jackie," who said that she was the victim of a gang rape by seven men at a fraternity party.

"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," the magazine's managing editor, Will Dana, wrote in a letter published on the magazine's website.

Dana said the author of the lengthy feature, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not talk to any of the students involved in the alleged rape before publishing the story out of respect for Jackie.

“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," Dana wrote in the letter. "We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story."

In a series of tweets today, Dana further noted that the fault lay with the magazine.

"We made a judgment – the kind of judgement reporters and editors make every day. And in this case, our judgement was wrong," Dana said in one tweet.

"We should have either not made this agreement with Jackie ... or worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story," Dana continued. "That failure is on us -- not on her."

The fraternity where the rape allegedly occurred has released a statement today denying the article's allegations.

"We have no knowledge of these alleged acts being committed at our house or by our members," the statement from the Virginia branch of Phi Kappa Psi reads.

University President Teresa Sullivan released a statement saying that the school is "aware" of the Rolling Stone announcement, but reiterated that they "first and foremost concerned with the care and support of our students and, especially, any survivor of sexual assault."

"Over the past two weeks, our community has been more focused than ever on one of the most difficult and critical issues facing higher education today: sexual violence on college campuses. Today’s news must not alter this focus," Sullivan said in the statement.

The fraternity where the rape allegedly occurred has released a statement pointing out three problems that its own investigation in conjunction with the Charlottesville Police Department has found in Jackie's story.

In the Rolling Stone article, Erdely used a pseudonym to describe the student that Jackie said invited her to a date function at the Phi Kappa Psi house in mid-September 2012 and later facilitated the gang rape. Jackie said that she met her date, "Drew," a junior, while working together as lifeguards at the university pool.

Psi Kappa Phi said in its statement that no member of their fraternity worked as a lifeguard in the fall semester of 2012. It also said that it did not have a date function or social event on the last weekend in September, though the article never specified exactly which weekend the alleged attack occurred.

The final point that they took issue with was the article's assertion that the alleged gang rape was part of a pledging task for prospective members. They said that their pledging activities do not occur in the fall semester.

"Moreover, no ritualized sexual assault is part of our pledging or initiation process," according to the statement. "This notion is vile, and we vehemently refute this claim."

In a tweet, Dana said: "I can't explain the discrepancies between Jackie's account and the counter statements made by Phi Psi."

"The fact that there is a story that appears in Rolling Stone in which I don't have complete confidence is deeply unsettling to me," Dana added in another tweet.