Watch CBS News

Rolling Stone apologizes for University of Virginia rape story

Rolling Stone is walking back its reporting on a woman who claimed she was gang-raped at a University of Virginia fraternity
Rolling Stone backs away from U.Va rape story 02:28

Rolling Stone's managing editor apologized Friday for a story the magazine published last month describing a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house, saying its trust in the alleged victim "was misplaced."

University of Virginia suspends fraternities over rape allegation 01:57

Managing editor Will Dana said in a post on the magazine's website that "there now appear to be discrepancies" in the account of the rape provided by a woman named Jackie.

Dana said only that those discrepancies became apparent "in the face of new information." He does not detail that information.

"We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story," Dana said.

The lengthy article put a spotlight on the issue of sexual assault on college campuses in the U.S. and detailed what it called a hidden culture of sexual violence at U.Va.

The statement said that because of the sensitive nature of Jackie's story, Rolling Stone decided to honor her request not to contact the men she claimed organized and participated in the attack. That prompted criticism from other news organizations.

"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," Dana said.

Virginia's Attorney General, Mark Herring, called the news "deeply troubling."

"Virginians are now left grasping for the truth, but we must not let that undermine our support for survivors of sexual assault or the momentum for solutions," Herring said in a statement.

"Months before the Rolling Stone article, the Commonwealth, the nation, and the University itself had begun addressing sexual violence on campus as a crisis," Herring added, saying he's chairing a task force on campus sexual assault. "Nothing should or will distract from that critical work."

Herring went on to say that "the Charlottesville Police Department and an independent counsel team are separately looking at all aspects of this particular allegation, as well as the University's policies, procedures, and culture."

Last week, in an interview with The Washington Post, the article's writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, wouldn't say whether she knew the names of the alleged attackers or had contacted the man behind the alleged attack.

On Friday, the Post reported that some of Jackie's close friends doubted her story.

University President Teresa Sullivan has asked police to investigate the reported gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi house. The fraternity has surrendered its fraternal agreement with the school and suspended all chapter activities.

"Our purpose is to find the truth in any matter and that's what we are looking for here," the police department said in an emailed statement Friday. "These articles do not change our focus moving forward."

The school also had suspended activities at all campus fraternal organizations because of the story.

The fraternity issued its own statement refuting the woman's account, which detailed a Sept. 28, 2012, party at the Phi Kappa Psi house. The woman said she was led upstairs by her date, who then orchestrated her gang-rape by seven men. The woman said her date worked at the U.Va. pool, and she quit her job as a lifeguard so she wouldn't have to see him after the alleged rape.

However, the fraternity said in its statement a 2012 list of employees at the Aquatic and Fitness Center did not list any of its members as a lifeguard. It also said it had determined none of its members worked there in any capacity at the time.

The fraternity also said it had no social event during the weekend when the woman said the rape took place.

CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman reported last month that U.Va. is one of more than 80 schools under federal investigation for sexual violence.

Annie Forrest told CBS News she was sexually assaulted freshman year.

"I do believe there is a rape culture on grounds, however I don't believe it's unique to U.Va.," said Forrest. "I believe it extends far past just our grounds."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.