Rolling Stone's managing editor Will Dana issued a note today saying that the magazine would be re-examing its blockbuster story of rape and its aftermath at the University of Virginia. The magazine announced it has found "discrepancies" in the central anecdote of Sabrina Rubin Ederly's article, an account of a student being gang-raped by seven members of a campus fraternity.
In the note, Dana first defends Erdely's reporting of the story, and then pretty much throws her main source and alleged rape victim, Jackie, under the bus:
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.
After Dana published his note, the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi, where Jackie said her rape happened, issued a statement rebutting her claims. The fraternity claimed it didn't host a party on September 28, 2012, the night Jackie said she was raped. The frat also said that no Phi Psi member worked as a lifeguard in 2012 (Jackie said she met the man who orchestrated her rape because they were both lifeguards at the campus pool).
The Washington Post interviewed Jackie in light of some of these discrepancies, and she's sticking by her story. She does say, however, that she felt manipulated by Erdely and that she was "completely out of control over my own story." She continued, "I never asked for this [attention]. What bothers me is that so many people act like it didn't happen. It's my life. I have had to live with the fact that it happened every day for the last two years."
It may never be clear what exactly happened to Jackie on the night of September 28. The Post has attempted to report out Jackie's claims, but the paper already deleted a big claim of its own without a correction:
— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) December 5, 2014
All of this is bad. Jackie's friend Alix Pinkleton, a campus rape survivor herself, sums it up best in her statement to the Post: "One of my biggest fears with these inconsistencies emerging is that people will be unwilling to believe survivors in the future."