Rolling Stone to be sued over discredited reckless university rape story

April 8, 2015 4:03 pm
The University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi intends to sue Rolling Stone, calling the magazine’s discredited reporting of an alleged gang rape by some of its members “reckless”.
The lawsuit comes a day after Rolling Stone
editors retracted a story, “A Rape on Campus”, that presented a
chilling account of a brutal sexual assault that allegedly occurred in
the Phi Kappa Psi house at the university in 2012.
A Columbia
University report described significant lapses by the magazine’s staff
while reporting the gang-rape allegations, and the story’s writer,
Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and the publication’s managing editor, Will Dana,
apologised for the deeply flawed account. But the fraternity noted that
Erdely did not apologise directly to the Phi Psi chapter at the
university.

 Publisher Jann Wenner. Photo / AP

“The report by Columbia University’s School of Journalism
demonstrates the reckless nature in which Rolling Stone researched and
failed to verify facts in its article that erroneously accused Phi Kappa
Psi of crimes its members did not commit,” said Stephen Scipione, the
fraternity’s chapter president.

“This type of reporting serves as a sad example of a serious decline of journalistic standards.”
In
a note to readers, Dana wrote that the magazine planned to revise
editorial policies in light of the Columbia report. Rolling Stone
spokeswoman Kathryn Brenner said there would be no comment on Phi Psi’s
plans to sue the publication.
The main subject of the story, a student identified only as Jackie, declined to comment through her lawyer, Palma Pustilnik.
In
March, Charlottesville police detailed an investigation that exonerated
the fraternity and found there was no evidence to substantiate the
sexual assault allegations described in Rolling Stone. The report also
showed that university administrators acted quickly to provide Jackie
with resources after she disclosed her alleged sexual assault and
arranged for her to meet detectives about the case. Charlottesville
Police Chief Timothy Longo said last month that Jackie refused to
co-operate with investigators.
Fraternity members told the
Washington Post that they knew within hours of the article’s publication
that there were significant discrepancies in the account. Phi Psi
members said they used social media logs, digital records and financial
statements to confirm that the fraternity did not host a function the
night Jackie said she was attacked.
Phi Psi members now pledge to
undergo sexual assault awareness training and collaborate with sexual
violence prevention groups on campus.

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