Education

Students Come Forward To Poke More Holes In Virginia Co-Ed’s Gang Rape Story

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter

Details have emerged suggesting that a University of Virginia student named Jackie fabricated even more of her story of a brutal gang rape than previously believed, and that the Rolling Stone reporter who documented the tale failed in her duty to properly investigate the tale.

“Andy,” “Randall,” and “Cindy” are three central figures in Jackie’s story, which was told to and reported by Rolling Stone’s Sabrina Rubin Erdely last month.

Separately, all three have told The Washington Post that Jackie’s story appears to have changed drastically from when they first encountered her on Sept. 28, 2012, the night Jackie told Erdely she was gang-raped by seven members of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

And “Randall,” who Erdely reported declined to comment for her article by citing allegiance to his own fraternity, says that the reporter never reached out to him, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Among other damning details reported by the Post include Jackie passed around a photograph of a man she claimed she was going on a date with the night in question. The man, it turns out, had actually been a high school classmate of Jackie’s and was out of state the time the alleged attack occurred.

Jackie’s initial claims, as reported by Erdely, caused shockwaves throughout the UVA campus and sparked a national dialogue about the problem of campus sexual assault.

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house was vandalized, and school president Teresa Sullivan shut down all Greek activity for the semester in response to the article. National lawmakers cited the article as evidence that more must be done to address not just sexual assault but also how the school handles it.

In her article, Erdely reported that Jackie, who hails from northern Virginia, claimed that she went on a date with a third-year student named “Drew” who she knew from her job as a lifeguard at the school’s swimming pool.

Jackie claimed that after their date, “Drew” took her to a party at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. There, Jackie said that she was bloodied and beaten — even penetrated with a beer bottle — during a gruesome fraternity initiation.

According to Jackie’s version of events, when she left the frat house at 3 a.m., she called her three friends.

She claimed that the trio warned her not to go to authorities because it might tarnish her reputation at the school.

On top of that, Erdely laid out how UVA administrators allegedly failed to properly investigate Jackie’s rape.

The attack itself, the shame urged by her friends, and the disregard from school officials was meant to paint a picture of systematic disregard for sexual assault victims on college campuses, a recent focal point for feminists and other activists.

But Jackie’s three friends all told the Post that the story related in the magazine varies drastically from what they saw and what Jackie told them happened that night.

All three said that Jackie claimed she was forced to give oral sex to five men. They did not see blood or evidence of physical assault, as Jackie reportedly told Erdely.

“It didn’t happen that way at all,” Andy told the Post.

The friends also told the Post that they asked Jackie if she wanted to report being forced to give oral sex to the group of men, but she said she just wanted to go to her dorm room. The three said they spent most of the rest of the night with her.

“I mean obviously we were very concerned for her,” Andy said. “We tried to be as supportive as we could be.”

“She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma,” Randall told the paper. “I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before and I really hope I never have to again…If she was acting on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, then she deserves an Oscar.”

“Randall’s” friendship with Jackie is especially intriguing. He told the Post that Jackie was interested in him romantically during the Fall 2012 semester, but that he told her he just wanted to be friends.

Shortly after, the friends said Jackie began talking about a third-year student from her chemistry class. She said he had a crush on her and wanted to take her out.

Wanting to find out more, the three friends asked Jackie for the third-year’s phone number. They received a picture of him and began exchanging text messages, which were provided to the Post. In them, the man wrote to the trio about “this super smart hot” student, referencing Jackie.

In one message, he wrote “I really like this girl.”

But then the man said that Jackie had lost interest. He sent one text message reading: “Get this she said she likes some other 1st year guy who dosnt like her and turned her down but she wont date me cause she likes him. She cant turn my down fro some nerd 1st yr. she said this kid is smart and funny and worth it.”

“Randall” believes that the first-year student mentioned in those messages is him. The friends also began to doubt that the third-year was actually sending the text messages.

Nevertheless, Jackie said that she was going out on a date with the man on that September night.

The friends searched online but were unable to find any indication that the third-year student existed. School officials told the Post that no student by that name went to the school.

But the man, who the Post identified by his picture, said he knew Jackie from high school and that he had not been to Charlottesville, where UVA is located, in six years. He also said he was at an athletic event for the school on the night of the alleged rape.

“I have nothing to do with it,” he told the Post.

The mysterious third-year chemistry student appears to be a different man than one Jackie named to friends last week, as the first waves of doubt wafted over her story. The Post contacted that man, but he said that he had never gone on a date with Jackie and that he was not a lifeguard with her during the time the incident occurred.

Jackie’s three friends also told the Post that she never named a fraternity on the night they met up with her. That detail was added, along with others.

Emily Renda, one of Jackie’s friends in the sexual assault support community at UVA, met Jackie last year. Renda said last week that Jackie initially said she had been gang-raped by five men. The details shifted when Jackie said that she had been raped by seven men.

Erdely, who initially made the media rounds to tout her article when it came out, has remained in hiding during the fallout.

Follow Chuck on Twitter