Rolling Stone Backpedals on Bombshell UVA Rape Story: ‘Our Trust Was Misplaced’

Wenner Media publication admits to holes in its reporting of an alleged college campus gang rape

Last Updated: December 5, 2014 @ 12:05 PM

Rolling Stone has admitted to mishandling its report of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, the magazine said Friday in an open letter.

Addressing readers on its official website, the Wenner Media publication said it now has doubts over the harrowing account of a woman named Jackie, who was allegedly assaulted at a fraternity house, as reported in a November piece titled “A Rape on Campus.”

“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,” the letter states.

Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana continues that “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.”

Wenner Media’s only statement is the posted letter. Publisher Jan Wenner has no further comment, a spokesperson told TheWrap

Read Rolling Stone’s open letter to readers, written by Dana:

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.