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Friend of alleged UVA rape victim: Story is no hoax

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia.

CBS News

A suitemate of a student who claims she was gang-raped at a University of Virginia fraternity party says that the alleged victim's story is "not a hoax, a lie or a scheme" - despite new questions about the woman's account.

In a letter published in the school's newspaper, Emily Clark says she has no concrete evidence to prove that her friend -- given the pseudonym "Jackie" in a Rolling Stone article -- was sexually assaulted but described a noticeable change in her roommate.

"Jackie never mentioned anything about her assault to us until much later," Clark writes. "But I, as well as others, noticed Jackie becoming more and more withdrawn and depressed."

Clark's letter comes after Rolling Stone changed its apology over the story about the alleged gang rape, telling readers the mistakes were the magazine's fault, not the alleged victim's.

The magazine said that it shouldn't have agreed to Jackie's request not to contact the alleged assailants to get their side of the story, out of sensitivity to her. "These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie," wrote the magazine's managing editor, Will Dana. "We apologize to anyone who was affected by the story and we will continue to investigate the events of that evening."

The decision not to contact the alleged rapists as well as many of Jackie's friends prompted criticism from other news organizations.

Last month's sensational story made Jackie's case an example of what many called a culture of sexual violence hiding in plain sight at U.Va., one of the nation's leading public universities. The story claimed that too many people on the Charlottesville, Virginia, campus put protecting the school's image and their own reputations above seeking justice for sex crimes.

The allegations rocked the campus and elevated the issue of sexual assault, leading to protests, a suspension of fraternity activities and an emergency Board of Visitors meeting.

Dana's updated message added some details calling into question the magazine's original story. He noted that Phi Kappa Psi has denied the assault, and said it didn't host an event on the night Jackie alleged she was raped. And Dana said that Jackie is now unsure that the man who allegedly lured her into a room to be gang-raped by seven men, identified as "Drew," was a member of Phi Kappa Psi.

In her letter to the university community, Clark says even if details of Jackie's story were incorrect or misreported by the writer, "the blame should never fall on the victim's shoulders."

"While I cannot say what happened that night, and I cannot prove the validity of every tiny aspect of her story to you, I can tell you that this story is not a hoax, a lie or a scheme," Clark writes. "Something terrible happened to Jackie at the hands of several men who have yet to receive any repercussions."

Meanwhile, three national Greek organizations released a statement to "CBS This Morning" calling for the school to "immediately reinstate operations for all fraternity and sorority organizations on campus and issue an apology for its actions."

The statement said that "the school's decision to suspend hurt the reputation of thousands of outstanding student leaders."

CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman reports that while Rolling Stone and university officials continue to investigate, students remain committed to the alleged victim's story.

"I think UVA has an opportunity to get it right," said student Sandra Menendez. "We absolutely need to stand with Jackie."