Charlottesville, Virginia, Police Chief Timothy Longo just concluded a press conference about the results of an investigation into the events cataloged in Rolling Stone's blockbuster article from November, "A Rape on Campus." The piece, which led to the suspension of fraternities on the University of Virginia campus, opened with the assault of "Jackie" by seven Phi Kappa Psi brothers at a house party, an account that has since been called into question.
Although the story was met with lavish praise and led to a backlash against frats, it soon became apparent that the narrative wasn't as airtight as it appeared. For instance, author Sabrina Ruben Erdley curiously didn't attempt to contact Jackie's supposed assailants, citing the sensitive nature of her situation. But when the Washington Post starting digging, it became clear that even Jackie's friends disagreed with her account of what happened at the frat house. In light of the paper's reporting, on December 5, Rolling Stone editor Will Dana admitted there were "discrepancies" between Jackie's account and what actually went down on the night of September 28, 2012.
Now local police are echoing the Post's assertions about how just how glaring those discrepancies are. According to Chief Long, Jackie's friends were aware that she was going on a date the night of the supposed rape, but the place where they were supposed to get dinner doesn't have reservation data that dates back to 2012, and there's no credit card evidence that shows they actually went there.
More importantly, cops didn't find any evidence that a frat party ever occurred later that night.
Police couldn't even prove that the man Jackie told her friends about was real. The two apparently worked together at an aquatic center, but interviews with other employees there turned up nothing.
"We made numerous attempts to identify [the supposed rapist] to the extent that he even exists," Long said.
The police have suspended the investigation but are hoping someone comes forward with new information. In the press conference, the chief stressed that Jackie isn't facing any charges herself, and that it's crucial for rape victims to come forward with information right away, because evidence is sure to disappear as more time passes.
Faculty members at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism are currently working on an independent fact-check of the article. Rolling Stone editor Will Dana told the New York Times yesterday in an email that he expects that report will be out "in a couple of weeks."
The initial findings of the probe don't "mean something terrible didn't happen to Jackie," Chief Long stressed at the press conference. "We are not just able to gather sufficient facts to gather what that something may have been."
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